(KCAU) — Joseph Knoer has served in the Army National Guard for over 11 years. In his decade of service so far, he only has one regret.
“I wish I would’ve joined a little younger. Like I said, I joined in 2010 and had I joined a little bit earlier, I would’ve got to do a few more things, both with a separate deployment and there were a lot of schools available back then,” Knoer said.
Military service runs in the family. Knoer’s dad served in Iraq and Afghanistan. His grandfather served in WWII and his great-grandfather served in WWI.
“It’s awesome. I’ve got a nephew who’s thinking about joining. He would be fifth generation and it’s just cool that we have our bloodline, our name in the Army for so long,” Knoer said.
As a squad leader for an infantry line unit, Knoer is not just responsible for himself. He keeps track of soldiers’ food, water and gear and makes sure they’re mentally and physically healthy. But the challenge of keeping track of 10 to 12 soldiers peaked for Knoer when one of his men got lost in the woods during a field exercise.
“We did a head count when we got on the truck and luckily I was able to go back and find him but it took me a good 5 or 10 minutes of having no idea where my soldier had wandered off to,” said Knoer.
Knoer said he chose the National Guard so he could have a civilian life and he’s using that opportunity to help fellow military members. He’s working on a dissertation for his doctorate degree about the transition of military members from active duty back into higher education.
“It feels really good and you would think there would be more on the topic, but it really didn’t get dug into a whole lot before 9/11 and even then it took a few years before veterans started working their way into school.”
Knoer says he hopes future veteran students can benefit from his work.