MADISON, Wis. — A recently retired Wisconsin Army National Guardsman received the surprise of her military career earlier this month.
Retired Col. Leah Moore was a medical corps officer and most recently served as the chief of staff for the Wisconsin National Guard’s joint staff before retiring in May.
Moore was anticipating a potluck with some of her former colleagues when she walked into Witmer Hall at the Joint Force Headquarters building in Madison, Wisconsin, Aug. 3. Instead, she was greeted by a room full of family, friends and colleagues in the Wisconsin National Guard applauding her.
“There are a lot of people in this room I trust,” Moore said as she stood at the front of the room, unsure of what was coming next.
On the projector screen at the front of the room was a video teleconference with Brig. Gen. Jill Faris, the U.S. Army’s assistant surgeon general for mobilization, readiness and National Guard affairs.
Faris led a ceremony in which Moore was presented with a medal, signifying that she had been inducted into the Order of Military Medical Merit, or O2M3, for her contributions to the Wisconsin Army National Guard medical community.
The O2M3 is a prestigious organization that recognizes excellence and promotes esprit de corps among Army Medical Department personnel. The Order was founded in 1982 by the commanding general of U.S. Army Health Services Command at the time. There are currently just over 12,000 members in the organization.
“That’s an elite group, because if you talk about Army medicine in its totality…we have about 180,000 people actively serving to provide quality healthcare and promote readiness of our workforce,” Faris said.
The presentation initially left Moore speechless.
“For me, it’s just one of those ultimate achievements that I never imagined that I would get,” Moore said about her induction into the O2M3.
She added that she never thought she would be nominated since there aren’t many people in the National Guard who have received this award.
“I have to say I didn’t do this alone, and I didn’t do it with my own ideas,” Moore said.
Moore was recognized for her achievements pertaining to Soldier Readiness Processing (SRP), an Army program that ensures readiness at the Soldier level prior to mobilization or deployment. Moore’s efforts helped to link Army medical staff into the Wisconsin Immunization Registry, ultimately saving the Army money by not giving Soldiers flu shots or other vaccinations they already received through a civilian provider.
“The Wisconsin Army National Guard SRP process is the gold standard of SRP’s within the nation – quite simply, Col. Moore is responsible,” said 1st Sgt. Dick Wilson, the Wisconsin National Guard Health Systems Services office noncommissioned officer in charge. “She had the vision to see that there would be more mobilization requirements, not only medical, but personnel and family readiness as well, and knew that we would need to be more robust and efficient. She enabled so many people to work together, brainstorm and try different approaches to develop an efficient and database-driven event.”
That vision proved profound as the Wisconsin National Guard embarked on an unprecedented period of service in the years following the terror attacks of Sept. 11. Since that time, the Army has relied on the National Guard to serve as its primary combat reserve, and thousands of Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers have regularly deployed to combat zones. The processes implemented by Moore and her team ensured the medical, dental, family, financial and legal readiness of thousands of Soldiers.
Wilson added that Moore’s mentorship was perpetual and served as an inspiration for those who have worked for and with her. Moore previously commander the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Medical Detachment and the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion.
Col. Rebecca Giese, the current commander of the Wisconsin Medical Detachment, said that Moore has been her friend and mentor for many years, and has been the best role model she has had in her career.
“Col. Moore’s legacy has impacted more than just the medical portion of the Wisconsin Army National Guard,” Giese said. “Her name is known throughout the entire Wisconsin Army National Guard, and she was one of the most respected Soldiers in our ranks.”
Giese added that the positive changes Moore brought to the Wisconsin National Guard will continue to impact Soldiers within the state for many years to come.
Moore enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1983 and commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1988. After serving several years on active duty, Moore joined the Wisconsin National Guard in 1998, serving the remainder of her career with the organization.