Being a hero is not a term used lightly, but a Tampa Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) computer forensic analyst is being honored with the title again.
Nathan Cruz began his time with HSI as a HERO (Human Exploitation Rescue Operative) Child Rescue Corps and was just honored at the 2019 Viva Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Awards Ceremony as a Hispanic Military Hero.
“One of my mentors that has helped me since I first became injured nominated me for the local honor,” Cruz said. “While I’m proud of the award, I’m as excited to show others that you can succeed even when your life path takes a hard turn.”
Since joining HSI as a computer forensic analyst in 2014, Cruz has supported countless search warrants, digital forensic missions and court cases. He is also a member of the Rapid Reponse Team and participated in recovery efforts for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Michael in Florida.
“The value Nathan brings to HSI cannot be overstated,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero. “From his beginnings as a HERO intern, to his field and forensic work, we are lucky to have him on our team.”
In addition to retiring from the military and joining HSI through the HERO program, Cruz has also led an active role in supporting the wounded warrior community, as a combat-injured service member himself, through mentoring and participation in adaptive sporting activities.
Cruz has actively participated in adaptive events, including three marathons, a bike tour through the five boroughs of New York, a Sprint Triathlon, Warrior Games and a 500-mile event in the United Kingdom.
“Adaptive sports transformed the whole outcome of what my injury was supposed to be; they also help us to reintegrate with the community and change the way we see ourselves” Cruz said. “I enjoy using my experiences to help motivate others and serve as a mentor helping them get involved in adaptive sports.”
Cruz credits participation in adaptive sports to helping him stay physically and emotionally fit, making him a better HSI employee, he said.
“HSI is opening the doors on recruiting combat-injured veterans and giving us an opportunity to bring our expertise to the field and allowing us to continue serving our country,” Cruz said.
Cruz added, “When we raised our hands we swore to protect our nation for all enemies, foreign and domestic, overseas we fought foreign enemies, now our mission is our domestic enemies.”