“My father was a career Navy officer, so I knew what military service was like. And the Army ROTC program seemed like a great way to enter the Service as an officer.”
The son of an officer, Joseph traveled from place to place as a young boy, but considers Florida his home, as that is where he lived when he graduated from high school. As a student at Central Florida University, a friend and recruiter told him about the Army ROTC, which he chose over his father’s Service branch of the Navy.
Still, choosing a military career made his parents very happy.
“My dad is extremely proud that I was following in his footsteps.”
His friends thought he was crazy at the time, but Joseph wanted more out of college. He wanted to feel part of something bigger. As for the ROTC experience, he admits that it was physically challenging.
“A typical day for us was coming together very early in the morning hours and doing some sort of physical fitness training together.”
The rest of the time, he was pretty much like any other college student, though at least one day a week he wore a uniform. The more concentrated military training took place in the summer. For six weeks each summer, Joseph underwent the Army’s precommissioning training, which is similar to Basic Training for officer candidates.
“[ROTC] is kind of like Basic Training stretched out over three or four years. So it’s a little bit at a time rather than something strenuous and stressful [packed into a short period] … I would recommend it for any college student to do it this way.”
Immediately upon graduating from college, Joseph was already an officer. His post-college journey in the Military began as a second lieutenant armor officer cruising around “in a big tank doing live fire ranges.” It was, as Joseph recalls, “a great deal of fun.” But he was also thinking about what he might like to do after the Military, and thus he turned his focus toward gaining skills in supply and transportation logistics. Both experiences — from tank to supply science — were very satisfying.
“I was responsible for 16 people and over 2.5 million [dollars] worth of equipment.”
I was able to do the right thing and make a difference in people’s lives.
His on-the-job training in transportation and supply coordination was equally rewarding and more satisfying than what his civilian peers were doing at the same age.
“I can’t think of any of my friends from college that went out to mainstream America that had such a great amount of experience placed on their shoulders and had the opportunity of leadership positions in such an early age.”
Joseph was able to grow these leadership skills on two separate deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Although very nervous at first, Joseph soon grew accustomed to base camp life in both settings, where, as an officer in logistics, he was often far removed from direct combat. His organization and discretion over which vehicles and devices to bring to the front lines, however, saved lives and made a difference.
“We were bringing in heavy resources that were going to be lifesaving and counter some of the improvised explosive devices ...”
This meant a great deal to Joseph.
“… I was able to do the right thing and make a difference in people’s lives.”
Today, Joseph has taken his military experiences and translated them to a master’s degree in logistics management — an education paid for by the GI Bill. The Army made this dream possible in more ways than just money.
“Having the money to go to school is one thing, but having the time to go to school is something different. The Army afforded me both.”
Currently, Joseph continues to serve in his logistics role. He is also married to a military spouse and about to become a father. But as he approaches his 20th year of service at a very young age, he knows he can retire by age 43 and still receive an income for the rest of his life, as well as all the health benefits.
“For us to both have that military retirement means that when we leave the military service, we’re going to do what we want to do … whether that’s being something like a volunteer with the Red Cross or teaching on a college campus interacting with young kids — and help steer them on the path to life.”
Based on Joseph’s life accomplishments thus far, he’d be a worthy guide.