Army reservist Sergeant Josh Miller recently returned from Afghanistan where he served as a civil affairs liaison between the military and the local population.
The 2000 Glen Este graduate said he was focused on grass roots efforts to build infrastructure and promote local businesses in the Kunar Province near the Pakistan border.
“There’s a big push for renewable energy. It’s more expensive to start but it’s easier to maintain,” Miller said. “We also provide business development micro-grants.”
The Army is also taking on projects that are in line with the Afghan culture.
"We have refurbished Mosques and built schools, we do what fits with in the culture," Miller said.
Afghanistan poses a unique problem for soldiers like Miller because much of their rural government is tribal based and the tribal leaders are unaccustomed to yielding to a higher level of government. He compared his role to that of the county commissioners in the sense that he was asked to coordinate projects that affect the whole community.
"We have to appease both sides and there is a lot of politics involved," Miller said.
Miller performed a similar role in Iraq where he served in 2006 and 2007. At that time he was stationed in Baghdad.
"It was a lot easier in Iraq because they already had infrastructure in place," Miller said.
Miller said that during both his deployments support from home made his service easier.
"The support is crucial. When you're over there you don't want to be distracted by the things at home," Miller said.
Little things like his father mowing his grass or packages of American treats from the Yellow Ribbon Foundation were very important to him. Miller thanked the Whole in My Heart support group, the Yellow Ribbon Foundation, the Thank You Foundation and the Veterans of Foreign Wars for their work in supporting the troops and their families.
He said he is very grateful for the support Clermont County residents show to their soldiers.
"Regardless of their feelings on the war they support our soldiers to the end," Miller said. "And that's what America is all about because whether you agree or not you are entitled to your opinion and you are not penalized for voicing that opinion. Thank you and keep it up."
Miller will be using the G.I. Bill to take classes at the University of Cincinnati beginning in January. He said he is unsure what specific field of study he would like to pursue, but he would like to continue to be involved in civil affairs.
"There's such a broad scope of things you can get involved in," Miller said. "With civil affairs you can get involved in what ever you want."
The Clermont County Commissioners honored Miller at their Monday, Nov. 22 meeting.
"We want to commend you serving and welcome you home," Commissioner Bob Proud said. "We are so dag gone proud of you."
Helping welcome Miller home were Frank Morrow of the Veterans Service Commission, Clermont County Sheriff A.J. "Tim" Rodenberg, Thank You Foundation executive director Sarah Rieke, and Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.
Schmidt thanked Miller for giving up his time, talent, and treasure to serve his country.