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Featured Profile for Intelligence Officer

Joe Wiltz

At 14, I was struggling to separate myself from the gangs and violence in south central L.A. After my parents’ divorce, I didn’t have any interaction with my dad, so I found myself reaching out for a father-figure. I decided to join the California Junior Cadet Core in junior high around the same time my best friend was jailed for robbery.

Even at that young age, I knew the military was my way out of the violence around me. I joined the Army Reserves with my mother’s permission at age 17. I chose the Army Reserves because it allowed me the chance to attend college after high school and gave me the money I needed to do so. Originally, I wanted to be a helicopter pilot. However, because of my poor eyesight, I realized I could not go into pilot training. I didn’t let this get me down.

I followed the Reserves where they took me. My first training with the military was as a cartographer, making maps, although I never worked at a job in that field. Instead, I found myself in a military police detachment training to become a correctional specialist working in a confinement facility, monitoring the prisoners and making sure they were taken care. Upon completion of my advanced administrative training, I became a buck sergeant in charge of the administrative section where I got a lot of good training and experience. I was in charge of all personnel records for all of the soldiers in the unit.

At the same time, my uncle offered me a job working for his electrical company. So, I joined the union, and became an electrician. I could work my civilian job and do my one weekend a month, two weeks a year for the military. I felt like that was where I needed to be. I found that my work in the administrative field complemented my managerial skills and knowledge of the interworking of the military. So, I left my job as an electrician and took a job with the Federal Government.

I worked full time for the Army Reserves as a unit administrator supporting a unit commander where my duties included administrative, finance, and training support, which fulfilled my requirements for dual status (working as an Army civilian and Army Reservist at the same time). I reached my potential at this position as a unit administrator. In order to get promoted, I had to change my MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) so I transferred to a transportation unit as a unit administrator (civilian) and trained to become a light wheel vehicle mechanic (reservist) repairing a variety of military vehicles from jeeps to 2 ½ ton trucks. This training elevated me to the rank of E6/ staff sergeant.

A career in the military requires constant education. I decided to transfer to an intelligence unit as a unit administrator (civilian) and administrative specialist (reservist). And again, for me to get promoted I had to change my MOS. I did, and this time was trained as an intelligence analyst where I collected and analyzed information and data collected by various sources. I transitioned into an active duty training officer (warrant officer) where I trained and mentored soldiers, managed intelligence analysts, and advise them in the best course of action to take in relation to intelligence. I hope to develop a training legacy to support deployed reservists to help combat stereotypes.

The military gradually morphed into a way of life for me. I met people I would never have met if I didn’t join, people whom I now consider my family. The military is a good option for young people looking for money for college. Another benefit is that you’ll always have a back up. If you’re in a civilian job, Reserve jobs will be there in case you get laid off or fired. And the connections and relationships are very helpful in opening doors in the future.

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