129 Years of Family Serving Family: Josh Samuels, HQ

A head shot of Josh Samuels with the American flag in the background.

One in a series honoring the Exchange’s 129 years of family serving family.

Who he is: Josh Samuels, Vice President of Hardlines, Merchandising Directorate, Exchange HQ

Years with the Exchange: 16 years.

Military connections: Samuels’ grandfather served in the Navy during the Korean War. His uncle served four years as an Army medic, and his aunt served 20 years in the Air Force.

Military service: “The military has always been a part of my family,” Samuels said. “I was looking for a way to pay for college, so I was going to enlist.” His uncle set up a meeting with an active-duty friend of his who told Samuels about an ROTC scholarship that would pay for his college and that having a college degree might open up more opportunities for Samuels in the Army. Samuels applied for and was awarded an ROTC scholarship and was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon completing his degree at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Samuels deployed twice during his five years of active-duty service. His first tour to Iraq lasted 10 months in 2004 to 2005. In October 2006, he deployed to Iraq again for 15 months.

Following his active-duty service, Samuels served a year and a half with the Texas Army National Guard, as part of the requirements of his ROTC scholarship.

Exchange memories: Samuels was familiar with the Exchange long before he served. “We would visit my aunt at Barksdale Air Force Base, and it was a big deal to go on base and shop at the BX. It was this magical place my aunt would take us where we could get the best products at the best prices. There was always this anticipation in visiting her and getting to go to the BX.”

The Exchange downrange: “The motto ‘We Go Where You Go’ is absolutely true,” Samuels said. “My best memories of being deployed were at the end of the day, going with my buddies to walk through the PX at Camp Rustamiyah, see what was new and grab drinks, candy, whatever we needed. It was a way to decompress and relax after the stress of the day and get a taste of home.”

What brought him to the Exchange: Samuels’ Major—now Maj. Gen. Eric Shirley—first gave him the tip to think about working for the Exchange. “He had been assigned to the Exchange and knew that I wanted to find work in Dallas. He told me that the Exchange was headquartered there and I should look into it.”

What he did at first: Samuels left active duty in 2008 and landed a job as a replenishment and inventory analyst on the Planning, Allocation and Replenishment (PAR) team. “I was a logistics officer in the Army, so I was looking for job that fit my skillset. The replenishment and inventory analyst role aligned with what I had done in the Army.”

What he did next: In 2011, Samuels moved from the PAR team to a position as a buyer. “I really valued my experience on the PAR team, but I had always wanted to be a buyer, to be at the tip of the spear when it came to assortment strategy and meeting our customers’ needs. I fell in love with being a merchant and have wanted to do that ever since.”

Samuels went on to be a senior buyer and divisional merchandise manager before assuming his current role as VP of hardlines in 2023.

Memorable moments: “The thing that stands out most is how the Exchange has supported me along the way.” Shortly after he joined the Exchange, his National Guard unit was called up for hurricane support. (2008 saw Hurricane Ike make landfall near Galveston, Texas, along with other hurricanes that affected the Texas Gulf Coast.)

“I had only been at the Exchange for a short time and had to go to my supervisor to say I was being activated. This happened multiple times, and it was never an issue, never a question—always support. ‘Don’t worry about how long you’ll be gone.’ ‘How can we support you?’ ‘Stay safe and let us know what you need.’  Right out of the gate, I felt super supported by leadership and have felt that my whole career. I’ve had a career of Exchange leaders focused on supporting me and growing me, ensuring myself and my family were always taken care of.”

Best part of working for the Exchange: “It’s a continuation of serving my country and my brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces. When I got out of the Army, I really wanted to keep serving in some capacity. This organization and my roles in it have always been about supporting the Warfighter.”

Family Serving Family: “To me, that means the people I served with. That’s what comes to mind. Serving together and having been through combat together, they were my family, they are my family, and they always will be my family. When I hear ‘family serving family,’ I see their faces.”

 

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