Juan R. Rivera  was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. In the early 1960s, he moved with relatives to Passaic, New Jersey.  In 1966, he was drafted for military service in the United States Army. He served a tour of combat duty in the Republic of South Vietnam, where he was wounded twice in separate combat actions. 

His combat decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal with letter “v” device, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with letter “V” device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation, Vietnam Service Medal with 2 bronze service stars, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award, and Expert Badge with Rifle Bar.

​Mr. Rivera was hospitalized at various military hospitals for nearly a year for treatment of wounds received in combat. Following his medical discharge, he returned to school and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montclair State University and a Juris Doctor degree from Seton Hall University, School of Law, in New Jersey.  Subsequently, he obtained two additional degrees and two Professional Certificates from Northern Virginia Community College in Virginia.Following his graduation from law school, Mr. Rivera served as a Legal Consultant and Business Representative to various U.S. firms in Latin America.  Subsequently, Mr. Rivera became a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State. Finally, he joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a clandestine operative.  He served various domestic and foreign tours of duty with the CIA, including a tour of duty as CIA liaison to the Commander of the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Rivera retired from the CIA in late 2006, and he remained in the Tampa area.  Following his retirement, he worked as Adjunct Professor at the University of South Florida and Eckard College, both in Tampa. In addition, he published two books about his favorite pastime, the game of dominoes. Currently, he has other literature works in progress, serves as political advisor to various political candidates, and volunteers his time to senior community centers in the Tampa area.