Imagine being a high school student with a normal class schedule, playing a sport or two and trying to keep your grades up.
Now imagine arriving at school an hour or two early most days, running drill, taking college classes for Running Start, being in charge of 30 or more Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps students, working toward a private pilot’s license and participating in the National Honor Society.
Medical Lake High School senior Joshua Strieb balances it all, along with being a JROTC cadet, a year-round commitment during the school year.
“It’s not like a sport where it’s one season,” he said.
But Strieb has dedicated himself to making the military his life commitment. This spring he will be assigned a basic training location, and after that, eventually end up with an intelligence job in the Air Force. That’s the plan, anyway.
“It’s something that really interests me,” he said. “And while I’m enlisted, I want to go to college at the same time and try to become a pilot for the Air Force.”
But enlisting and getting into basic training wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Strieb, who has scoliosis – a significant sideways curvature of the spine – went most of his high school career under the assumption that despite his determined efforts to perform well in JROTC, he would not be able to enlist in the military because of his spine. Mentally, this was one of the most difficult challenges he’s overcome.
“The scoliosis was what almost prevented me from joining the Air Force,” Strieb said. “I had always wanted to join the military, but I can’t fix scoliosis. And I still won’t be able to fix it.”
However, his dedication and hard work have paid off. Col. Lyle Powell, senior aerospace science instructor at Medical Lake, knows exactly how incredible it was for Strieb to achieve his goal of enlisting.
“For most kids as freshmen, they come into JROTC because their plan is to get into the military … getting into the military keeps them motivated,” Powell said. “For Josh it was kind of a challenge because for the longest time we were kind of under the assumption that – as much as he would have been a great candidate to go into the military – [his scoliosis] would have prevented him from going.
“It’s kind of like working on something that you don’t think can happen for years, and then wow, it can actually happen. That’s a really neat thing.”
Now that Strieb has his goals in sight, the Spokane native is ecstatic for his next life stage, ready for a new adventure.
“Once I enlist, and complete my technical training, I won’t really know where I’m going,” Strieb said. “And that’s exciting because I’ve lived in the same place for 18 years. I’ve always loved to travel, and it’s a mystery. It’s exciting.”
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