Joe LaHood joined the Marine Corps at the age of seventeen. In December of 1969, LaHood was sent to LZ Ross, South Vietnam, a landing zone south of Da Nang, and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. He worked in the unit's supply section and also periodically went on night patrols. Following the war, he attended Bradley University, and starting in 1973 he began years of therapy to help him deal with the more traumatic memories that he had repressed from his experiences in Vietnam. In the process, LaHood rediscovered his Catholic faith and became a deacon for three different churches.