It’s rarely given and then only to employers who have demonstrated outstanding and exceptional support to their employees who are members of the National Guard and Reserve, but today The Pro Patria Award was presented to St. Alexius Medical Center of Bismarck in recognition of their efforts to care for Guard and Reserve employees. The Pro Patria Award was presented by State Chair of the North Dakota Committee for the Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), Bob Wefald during a ceremony in Boniface Auditorium on the campus of St. Alexius Medical Center.
|From left to right:
• Gary P. Miller, St. Alexius President and CEO
• Col. Gordon Leingang, DO, Senior Flight Surgeon, ND Army National Guard, St. Alexius EMS Medical Director
• Robert Black, Linton Hospital CEO, Army Reserve Ambassador of ND
• Major General David A. Sprynczynatyk, ND National Guard
• Sr. Nancy Miller, OSB, Prioress, Annunciation Monastary, St. Alexius Board President
• Robert O. Wefald, Chair, ND Committee Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR)
St. Alexius was nominated for the highest award that can be given at the state level by Colonel Gordon Leingang, an Emergency Trauma Physician  who is a Senior Flight Surgeon in the North Dakota National Guard. “I’ve been called to active duty four times and will go a fifth in the coming months,” said Colonel Leingang, “not counting several ‘call ups’ for other state emergencies like floods, winter storms and tornadoes along the way.” Throughout these deployments Col. Leingang says he and others have received “steadfast and enthusiastic support,” noting that “we continue to serve because St. Alexius not only allows it, but encourages it.”
According to Col. Leingang, We’re a small group of physicians who staff a busy Emergency Trauma Department  24/7. When any one of us is gone, it means somebody has to step up and cover the open shifts. It’s a real burden that my partners have shouldered cheerfully and proudly, supporting me and my family when I go off to war.”
“We are proud of Dr. Leingang and of our associates who are members of the Guard and Reserve, and we support them because we too are committed to the strong defense of our country,” said Gary Miller, President and CEO of St. Alexius. “That support and encouragement is part of our culture of service and our commitment to keeping our nation strong,” Miller added. Miller received the award and also signed a Statement of Support reaffirming St. Alexius’ commitment to America’s part-time citizen warriors and its veterans.
Wefald commented, “The support St. Alexius has shown Col. Leingang and its other Guard and Reserve employees is a model for employers as our country cannot meet its military obligations without the Guard and Reserve, and members of the Guard and Reserve cannot be free to serve without knowing their employers are there for them.” ESGR is an agency of the Defense Secretary’s Office and is charged with the mission of gaining support from employers all across the country to make sure America’s Citizen Soldiers, Sailors, Aviators, Marines and Coast Guardsmen can secure, hold and return to jobs when they are called to defend our country, report for training or provide disaster assistance closer to home.
Mary Cate Mannion, Reporting