Service to his fellow human beings has always been at the forefront of Josh Groesz’ MS ’10 values. Josh grew up in Corvallis and at age 17 with his father along to vouch for him because of his young age, he went to the local Army National Guard recruiter and enlisted.
After enlisting, Josh served in the infantry and even though he was serving in the Oregon Army National Guard with a one weekend a month and two-week annual training commitment, his unit, like many across America, deployed to a combat zone during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His unit served as a quick reaction force for the U.S. Army’s First Cavalry Division. It was while serving in an intense combat zone for a year and witnessing the ravages of war on human beings, both physically and mentally, that he decided to make it his mission to serve others. “Serving in Taji, Iraq, gave me the drive to further my education to help others, particularly those with post-traumatic stress disorder, which is often invisible,” he said.
Josh returned to Corvallis and worked on finishing an undergraduate degree in psychology at Oregon State University and graduated in 2006. After graduation, he did some retail work in Portland for a couple of years then applied to graduate school at Oregon, Portland State and SOU. He was accepted at both PSU and SOU but really felt like Ashland was the place for him because it felt like home.
“While I was in school at SOU, staff and faculty really cared about me as a person and the slow pace and down to earth lifestyle in Ashland really helped me,” said Josh. With help and guidance from professors like Dr. Patricia Kyle, he blossomed in SOU’s small classes and caring environment. In his final year at SOU, he did an internship at Crater High School in Central Point, working as a school counselor. SOU’s commencement June of 2010 was the first-ever that he had participated in, which really stuck with him, “I loved walking at SOU in the commencement ceremony. SOU believed in me and gave me the confidence to move to the big city back in Portland.”
Josh moved back to Portland and did non-profit work for Lines for Life, helping veterans cope with the stress of returning home and he was also able to teach at Portland Community College and later, taught full time at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. Josh found that his specialty was “helping the helpers” and he moved on to work for the Salvation Army and became the Social Services Executive Director of the Veterans and Family Center, working hard to reduce veteran homelessness.
With a yearning to get away from his flat screen, Josh recently accepted the Executive Director position with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Linn County in Albany, Oregon, an amazing organization that helps recruit, train and support advocates for children who have been victims of abuse and neglect. CASA of Linn County has six staff and 200 children and families to support while training 80 volunteer advocates. “I’ve had a great run since earning my graduate degree and I wouldn’t be where I am now, if it wasn’t for SOU,” he said.
Learn more: CASA of Linn County