NFL Salute to Service |


Salute to Service Award


Ron Rivera (Head Coach)

Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera was born into the military. His father was drafted into the Army in 1952 and retired after two tours of duty in Vietnam and 32 years of service. His parents met at a USO event and raised their four children on military bases around the globe. Throughout his life, his exposure to the military has shaped the values and ideals he brings to the coaching profession and in his service to the community. It is a commitment Ron shares with his wife, Stephanie, whose father served as a Navy submarine driver and grandfather served on a submarine in World War II. During his tenure as head coach of the Panthers, Rivera has embraced the large military contingent in the Carolinas. He makes anticipated annual visits to the region's military bases including Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune to spend time with troops, wounded warriors and Special Operations Forces, but his personal engagement with Armed Forces members is a particular passion.

Outside of football, Ron and Stephanie serve as USO of North Carolina and Veterans Bridge Home ambassadors donating both their time and financial resources to support organizational events and active duty troops. Former USO of North Carolina President/ CEO and retired Lieutenant Colonel John Falkenbury said this of Rivera: "While the Carolina Panthers are the 'Gold Standard' for supporting our military and their families, it is Coach Rivera who sets the tone and leads by an example that permeates through the entire team and management. Throughout the year, Coach Rivera and his wife, Stephanie, dedicates personal and team time to honor our military by inviting and meeting with them at training camp, Military Furlough Weekends during the season, or traveling to area military bases on his own time to quietly meet with our Warriors and their families. When a Special Forces Soldier was tragically killed in action, leaving a wife and several children behind, Coach Rivera stepped up personally to support the family. Coach Rivera, the son of an Army Warrant Officer, knows first-hand the challenges our military men and women, as well as their families face on a daily basis. His commitment to them is unswerving, passionate and uplifting. Through his words and deeds, he makes a profound difference to the less than one percent of the nation protecting the freedoms of the other 99 percent."