FORT SHERIDAN, Illinois -- Col. Larry (Jeff) Luedeman relinquished duties as the commander of the Central Medical Area Readiness Support Group (CEMARSG) to Col. Rodger (Dale) Jackson Jr. during a change of command ceremony May 7 at the Fort Sheridan Army Reserve Center in Fort Sheridan, Illinois.
Change of command ceremonies are a military tradition that represent a transfer of authority and responsibility for units or commands. The history, tradition, and accomplishments of the command are embodied in the colors. The passing of colors from an outgoing commander to an incoming commander ensures that the unit and its Soldiers are never without official leadership, represents a continuation of trust, and signifies an allegiance of Soldiers to their unit's commander.
Brig. Gen. Thad J. Collard, Army Reserve Medical Command Deputy Commanding General, presided over the ceremony, accepting the Colors from Luedeman as he relinquished command and handing them to Jackson, symbolizing the transferring of authority.
“Any good organization typically has a good leader, and Col. Jeff Luedeman is definitely that,” said Collard during his remarks at the event. “(Col. Luedeman) is known for his competency, character, and capability for taking care of Soldiers and getting results.”
“He’s probably one of the best commanders I have ever worked with,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jodi Renner, CEMARSG command sergeant major. “He is the most kind, most compassionate, most fair, thoughtful commander I have served under. Any Soldier he’s ever touched, me included – he makes you a better person, a better friend, a better wife, a better Soldier, and a better leader. His leadership will be missed.”
As part of that leadership Luedeman, who will be moving on to a position in the 3rd Medical Command, Deployment Support has pushed CEMARSG Soldiers to get out and engage in tough realistic training. “It’s just really created a momentum of wanting to get out, to get involved with this type of training,” said Renner. “We have 17 competitors who are out right now taking part in the EFMB (Expert Field Medical Badge, one of the most difficult badges to earn in the Army). The next closest unit has six. Our Soldiers are ready to get out, they are hungry to do things like this.”
That emphasis was intentional, said Luedeman, who works as an Assistant Division Director for human and animal food for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “Post-COVID, (we focused on) getting Soldiers back and re-integrated into in-person battle assemblies and the training, getting Soldiers out of the drill halls and focused on the Soldier skills, the shoot, move and communicate mindset,” the Plymouth, Minnesota resident said. “The morale, when we do our battlefield circulation, when they can get onto these training platforms, and when we see units training together in the field -- that’s when we see the morale increase and that Soldiers truly appreciate getting out of the drill halls and doing this training.”
That focus on individual skills has helped them build towards mission accomplishment. “The directed missions we have had, from the MOBEX to the Global Medic Exercises to the CEMARSG running this year’s EFMB has been a big deal” Luedeman said. “The mobilizations have been big, including two rotations to a mobilization platform in Texas, and two mobilizations to support the DWMMC in Landstuhl.
Jackson, who is coming to CEMARSG from the 176th Medical Brigade in Seagoville, Texas, recognizes the situation he is stepping into. “I’m inheriting something great,” he said. “Command is never easy, but when you have a unit like this to take command of, that part makes it easier.”
Despite the favorable situation, it won’t be easy. “One of the biggest challenges right now is recruiting,” Jackson, a Macomb Township, Michigan resident who works as a civilian as an Associate Chief Medical Officer at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, said. “Each one of us must become a recruiter. We must put our best foot forward and always look for opportunities. We’re building tomorrow’s Army today, we are training that Army today, and we need to make sure we are filling the slots that we are going to leave as we move on.”
That mindset is appreciated. “I’m really excited for (Col. Jackson) to be here,” Renner said. “I think he is the right person to take Central MARSG to the next level. Col. Luedeman set us up for success, and Col. Jackson is going to keep driving the train in that direction.”
Headquartered in Fort Sheridan, the CEMARSG is a direct reporting unit to Army Reserve Medical Command and is responsible for providing mission command and control to U.S. Army Hospitals and medical support groups throughout the central United States. The CEMARSG has units located in Illinois, Arizona, Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.