Born in Los Angeles, California, Jose Armenta witnessed the struggle of his parents and his neighbors who lived in the rougher parts of the city and knew early on that he wanted something completely different. He wanted the structure and honor of military life.
Jose was especially close to his grandfather and remembers him telling stories about his time in the Army and singing Army songs. Jose longed for the day when he could enlist in the military himself, and in 2007, after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Following boot camp, he graduated at the top of his class in Military Police School and received the Top Dog Award for his outstanding performance in the K-9 Handlers Course.
Jose spent two more years training military dogs stateside before serving in Okinawa, Japan. Then, in the summer of 2011, Jose was deployed and attached to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion in the upper Sangin Valley of Afghanistan where he participated in over fifty combat missions with his bomb dog, Zenit.
On August 28, 2011, a typical Sunday for the unit, Jose and his platoon conducted a security patrol in an area known for being laden with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). As Jose searched for IEDs with Zenit, he stepped on a pressure plate containing over ten pounds of homemade explosives. “I woke up five days later in Landstuhl, Germany, and realized I had lost both of my legs above the knees.” He was then medevac’d to the United States where he underwent thirteen operations followed by the long process of physical rehabilitation.
Jose medically retired from the Marine Corps in 2013. He continued his service, working as a police dispatcher on the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego while returning to school to study finance. After answering several personal finance questions for his colleagues at work, Jose recognized that a financial planning career offered him an opportunity to help folks avoid facing the difficult choices his own family had faced. He soon began volunteering with local non-profits teaching financial literacy classes and preparing tax returns for low-income families. “I firmly believe that with every tragedy comes an opportunity to grow into a stronger, wiser version of yourself. I want to be a role model to my children so they, too, will work hard to overcome obstacles that come their way.”
Although Jose has found success in many areas of his life, one constant challenge is his ability to navigate the physical barriers of everyday living. Wheelchair ramps have been added to his home, but his home is not fully accessible. Jose has fallen many times at home, some of which have led to injury. “I am especially haunted by the memory of falling with my infant son.” Fortunately, the baby was not injured, but the incident left Jose with a sense of fear and shame that he could not care for his children safely. “Being a husband and father is the most important thing to me.” Having a specially adapted smart-technology home will give Jose the freedom, mentally and physically, to live and care for his family safely.
The Gary Sinise Foundation looks forward to building Jose a home where he can have peace of mind and his whole family can fully participate in the everyday joys of life.