Meet Wyakin Warrior Josh Barnes

Units: Air Force Special Operations, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Force Combat Command

Stationed: Mississippi, Texas, England, California, North Dakota

Deployment: OEF/OIF LSA Anaconda

Degree:  BS Health Science, Pre-Professional Cert in Speech-Language Pathology, working on an MS in Speech-Language Pathology

Why did you join the Air Force? I wanted to travel, expand my perspective, and do something that served someone else.

What was the best thing about serving in the Air Force? The best thing was the people. Not only did I make friendships with people from all over, I learned so much from their different viewpoints and backgrounds that helped shaped the person I grew into. You learn that you can enjoy relatively terrible situations when you are with people that you enjoy. Also, that it’s possible to find humor in just about anything.

What happened that led to the loss of your eye sight? A complication from radar exposure caused central serous retinopathy (CSR) and scarring on the pigment epithelium on the macula.

What was the hardest adjustment to make with this physical challenge? Reading is difficult but accessibility options on most electronics now are pretty refined (mostly I use magnification, occasionally text-to-speech, and audiobooks take care of any recreational reading I engage in). Not driving is probably the biggest adjustment; I live in a city that doesn’t have a well-designed public transit system, so it impacts independent travel. There’s an interesting phenomenon as well in that I never realized how much a person relies on visual cues for understanding speech in noisy situations and I occasionally have a hard time understanding what people are saying in a crowd, restaurant, etc., even though my hearing is normal. Also, nobody ever wants to go shooting with me.

Of all the things you have seen around the world, what is the one thing you would change? The lighting. Just kidding.

What civilian career are you working on? I want to become a Speech-Language Pathologist.

What has Wyakin done for you and why do you believe in it so much? Wyakin does something different in that it focuses on building the person rather than just supplying funds/support for education. There is a strong focus on professional development and giving back to the community (my favorite part). Each warrior has the opportunity to complete a community service project, which serves to build on project management skills while supporting them to engender a substantial beneficial impact.