Joshua Yarbrough almost joined the Air Force right after high school, but he changed his mind when he received a college scholarship to Louisiana State University in Shreveport, La. He started coursework, but he decided he needed more money to pay for college. As a result, the Army Reserve began to look more attractive because the benefits could help him finish college. Joshua could also serve part time, close to school.
“The benefits of the Army Reserve finally got me to say, ‘I want to do this, and I want to see about going active, but I want to try it before I go full in.’”
Joshua decided to join and started his military career as a human resources specialist in Louisiana, and he stayed in that position for two and a half years. He continued to work on his college degree while serving in the Army Reserve. Once he had enough credit hours under his belt, Joshua applied for a commission before he completed his degree.
“I had to go to a board in Little Rock, Ark., and sit in front of three colonels and explain to them why I should be an officer, despite the fact that I hadn’t finished college. Apparently, at the end of the day I sold them on my potential.”
When Joshua became an officer, he also changed his field from human resources to engineering because he wanted a more combat-related career. He began to train as an officer in the Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC), and then he went on to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for his engineering officer training.
“A general engineer is responsible from vertical to horizontal. A vertical engineer officer focuses on construction of buildings, plumbing and electricity. Horizontal does anything from route sanitation, which is keeping the routes clear of trash and debris where the enemy can hide improvised explosive devices (IEDs), to building and paving the roads. Combat engineer officers focus on a broad spectrum of mobility and counter-mobility, as well as serving as infantry as needed.”
After working as a horizontal platoon leader, Joshua is now a first lieutenant and a combat engineer officer based in Conway, Ark. His unit is responsible for route clearance, which involves looking for and removing IEDs and mines.
“We conduct threat reductions. We drive a bunch of up-armored vehicles, and we patrol routes at about five miles an hour. We look for IEDs and try to engage and destroy them or disable them so that the forces can continue to conduct operations.”
Joshua has not been deployed yet, but he drills regularly for the Army Reserve while maintaining his civilian job as a product process manager at a large electronics store. Although his work for the Army Reserve and his civilian work are different, Joshua has developed time management skills that help him succeed in both positions.
“When you are doing something, set up a business rhythm, set up a training rhythm and stick to it. If you are going to join the Army, if you are not physically fit to begin with, it’s the same thing. You just have to build the rhythm and just stick to it. If you can get a strong rhythm, it will carry you where you need to go.”
As for his future, Joshua plans to stay in the Army Reserve and continue earning promotions in both his civilian and military careers.
“You’ll learn more about yourself joining the Army than you would have ever thought. It shows you what your limits are and shows you how to exceed them.”