Brigadier General Joseph Shrader, a native of Princeton, West Virginia, enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 1981. He served for three years with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines as an infantryman and was promoted to corporal. After his enlistment, he returned to West Virginia where he earned an associate degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Bluefield State College. He was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Platoon Leaders Course commissioning program in 1989.
Upon graduation from The Basic School, Brigadier General Shrader attended the Artillery Officer Basic Course in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and then reported to 5th Battalion, 10th Marines (5/10). While assigned to 5/10, Brigadier General Shrader served as a Guns Platoon Commander, Battery Executive Officer and Battery Commander, and deployed to Southwest Asia during operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Provide Comfort.