Fort Leavenworth Soldier recognized as Army’s Correctional Professional of the Year
Sgt. 1st Class Ashley Neago, 15th Military Police Brigade sexual assault response coordinator, speaks with other volunteers at the 2022 Retiree Appreciation Day Oct. 29 at the Lewis and Clark Center. Neago has been named Army Corrections Command’s Corrections Professional of the Year. (Photo Credit: Charlotte Richter) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- Sgt. 1st Class Ashley Neago, sexual assault response coordinator with the 15th Military Police Brigade, was recognized as the Army Corrections Command's Correctional Professional of the Year during a ceremony Oct. 6 at the brigade.

During the ceremony, Neago received an Army Commendation Medal and a plaque from the Military Corrections Committee of the American Correctional Association for her contributions to Department of Defense corrections.

Neago said recognition for her efforts feels amazing, but her soldiers also deserve recognition for their work alongside her. She thanked her parents, her soldiers, and the community for their support.

“Honestly, it's an honor, especially being with the 15th Military Police Brigade. A lot of the soldiers, especially working in corrections, I feel do so much — especially my soldiers. Even though I was recognized, my soldiers did most of the work for me to be recognized.”

According to her nomination packet, Neago is responsible for 17 noncommissioned officers and 44 soldiers as the platoon sergeant for both the Directorate of Correctional Programs and the Directorate of Treatment Programs. She also serves as the battalion sexual assault response coordinator, the Fort Leavenworth Sergeant Audie Murphy Club president, and the Association of the United States Army Leavenworth Chapter vice president for Soldier Affairs, all while continuing her education toward a bachelor’s degree in homeland security.

Her platoon has won eight company-level Soldier and NCO of the Month boards and two Best Watchdog Competitions in the last four years. She and her soldiers have been recognized with impact achievement awards for their support of the Military Corrections Complex during the American Corrections Association Audit and the Virtual Bataan Death March.

Neago also assists with unit fundraising and planning functions for soldiers in need in her organization.

She has also been recognized outside of her organization for her volunteering efforts and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training instruction. Neago has volunteered more than 700 hours with local organizations; her efforts in coordinating volunteer opportunities also allowed 22 soldiers to earn the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

“For me, (earning the recognition means) my soldiers can strive to do that and be that and know it’s attainable because before I never would have thought I would receive (this award) or that it would be a goal that I could obtain.”

Neago said her 7-year-old daughter, Havanna, is her biggest inspiration, and her motivation at work is her family. She said she began volunteering to teach her daughter about community service. Her efforts developed as they began volunteering together on the weekends.

“Every weekend we would volunteer at a different place so she sees other people do it, not just her or her mom,” Neago said. “Now she says ‘I want to be a soldier’ or ‘I want to join the Army,’ and that makes me feel that it has some influence on her life and sets the example.”

Neago said she noticed the impact on her soldiers as well. As a leader, she wanted to create a family atmosphere in line within the rules and regulations of the Army.

“If there's one thing I've learned from them and they've learned from me is we’re family. Whether you’ve messed up, whether you are struggling, whether you are the best of the best, you can always pass that down. That has helped me be a successful leader.”

Neago said moments in her leadership when her soldiers took care of each other between their achievements are points of pride in her eyes. She said she is also proud of the community she found after being inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.

Neago suggests leaders get to know their soldiers without judgment, citing lessons learned in corrections.

“Know them. Know their families. Know their struggles. Know where they came from. A lot of soldiers’ motivations are their families, so if you know them and their families, you’ll be a great leader.”

“(Neago) is an outstanding noncommissioned officer that needed very little guidance, and she utilizes disciplined initiative in all aspects,” said 1st Sgt. Vincent Moore, 15th Military Police Brigade. “If you gave her a task, she was going to achieve it for the betterment of the organization as well as that of her soldiers.”

Moore described Neago’s leadership style as holistic.

“She ensures not only a high level of readiness in her soldiers, but morale and inclusiveness of all family members and even friends. She’s able to motivate soldiers to do things they typically wouldn’t do.”

Moore said Neago’s effectiveness as a volunteer coordinator motivates soldiers to volunteer in excess, providing help to both the installation and organizations in the greater Kansas City area. He said her work has had a dramatic effect on the morale of soldiers and their families.

“She’s a very humble individual,” Moore said. “She impacted the company, the brigade and Fort Leavenworth as a whole, and her soldiers were extremely proud to be able to serve under her during her tenure as a platoon sergeant.”