Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for July 25, 2011 - Sgt. Joseph L. Miller

Sergeant Joseph L. Miller

Current Unit: 1st Sustainment Command (Theater)
Current Position: Essential Personnel Services Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge
Component: Tennessee National Guard
Current Location: Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Hometown: Crossville, Tenn.
Years of Service: 15

With an estimated 100,000 troops currently serving in the Middle East, it remains a critical mission to track the location of each service member, especially with units continually rotating in and out. Sgt. Joseph L. Miller has worked earnestly throughout his deployment to keep tabs on each Soldier throughout the region.

Leveraging database and computer skills acquired from his prior civilian job with General Motors, the National Guardsman rebuilt an extensive grid charting the location and demographics of thousands of deployed Soldiers.

“We need to be able to verify where every Soldier is each day. If something happens, it is important to be able to immediately verify exactly how many Soldiers could be involved,” he said.

After successfully updating the database, Miller now serves as the essential personnel services noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater).

“My work enables the Soldiers of the brigades we support to do their job efficiently and with minimum worry,” he said.

In his current role, Miller is responsible for helping other Soldiers complete the required paperwork for award recognition and leave requests. While his efforts for the database are critical for the command leadership, his work also boosts the morale of his fellow Soldiers.

“I help the morale of the individual Soldiers by providing a conduit between them and the commanding general in getting them recognized for outstanding performance, and I also help them in times of crisis to properly file exception requests for emergency leave,” Miller said.

When Miller arrived overseas, he began his deployment with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq. But when the unit received orders to return home early due to Operation Responsible Drawdown, he chose to stay overseas to assist his fellows Soldiers.

Miller served with the Navy from 1975 to 1981 and then left the military to pursue a career with General Motors. However, after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, he felt called to serve his country in the Army.

“I worked for General Motors at the time as an electrical design engineer. I remember watching on the conference room television the events of Sept. 11, and thinking it was horrible that any human could do what they did to another or a group,” he said.

Not wanting to waste any time, Miller took immediate action.

“I went down to the Army Recruiting office the very next day to enlist in the active duty, but the recruiters wouldn’t take my application since I was too old to enlist. The day after that, I went to the National Guard recruiter, and after filling out age waivers and an enlistment contract I went home to wait for approval,” he said.

About one month later, Miller returned to the uniform and pinned on the rank of specialist. After initially joining the Michigan National Guard, he transferred to the Tennessee National Guard in 2007, and he has since been promoted to the rank of sergeant and earned his stripes as a noncommissioned officer.

The Soldier will return home to his family in January 2012, and looks forward to spending time with his wife and teenage children.

He hopes that both the Soldiers he serves alongside and his children will benefit from his experiences as a civilian and a Soldier. A descendent of the Black Foot Tribe, which is based in Montana, the Dakotas, and parts of Canada, Miller draws on his heritage as a Native America to instill strong values in others.

“I feel everyone's heritage should offer to them the meanings of their place in life, and everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses based on their heritage,” he said. “People who understand their strengths and can supplement their weakness with the strengths of others and offer their strengths to help other usually will get further in life then a person that only dwells on their short comings.”

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