Jose N. Vasquez was born in Bronx, NY and grew up in Southern California from the age of nine. After graduating high school in 1992, he enlisted in the U.S. Army serving over four years of active duty as a cavalry scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 24th Infantry Division at Fort Benning, GA, and the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, HI. He was honorably discharged in December 1996 at the rank of specialist (E-4).
In April 1997, Jose enlisted in the Army Reserve serving as a combat medic with the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment at Fort Shafter, HI and the 1984th U.S. Army Hospital at Tripler Army Medical Center, HI where he was promoted to sergeant (E-5). He reenlisted in June 2000, as a practical nurse with the 344th Combat Support Hospital at Fort Totten, NY. His last position was as an EMT instructor with the 11th Battalion, 98th Division at Fort Hamilton, NY.
He intended to retire from the Army Reserve after twenty years or more. However, after listening to the stories of antiwar combat veterans on Democracy Now! and a period of soul-searching, Jose applied for discharge as a conscientious objector in January 2005. He learned in February that his unit was on alert for deployment and reported for duty in March 2005 at Fort Sam Houston, TX for mobilization training. After a few weeks, he was sent back to New York to complete his CO process, which was approved in May 2007. He was honorably discharged the same month at the rank of staff sergeant (E-6).
Jose joined IVAW in June 2005 and co-founded the NYC chapter serving as the president. He also served on the interim board of directors and was elected to the first official board in 2006. He helped organize numerous actions and events including the Veterans’ and Survivors’ March to New Orleans, Operation First Casualty in NYC, and Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan. He represented IVAW in the editing process for the Winter Soldier book published by Haymarket.
In addition to his role as the Executive Director of IVAW, Jose is pursuing a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center where he is conducting research on militarization and the politics of sacrifice among veterans in contemporary American society.