- It’s never too late to serve.
Dr. Martin Lesser of Holyoke, Mass. proved that fact as he was sworn into the Massachusetts Army National Guard on January 11, 2009, at the age of 57.
Lesser was born in 1951 and grew up in a public housing project in Brooklyn, N.Y. He graduated from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1988 with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Degree. He performed his internship at Coney Island Hospital from 1988 to 1989 and completed a family practice residency at the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens from 1989 to 1991. Lesser moved to Western Massachusetts in 1992 and opened his own family practice in Holyoke.
“For the last sixteen years I've been a solo family practitioner in Holyoke and I've always been a military wannabe,” said Lesser, whose father and uncles served during World War II. He said he had always aspired to serve his country, and is now getting his chance.
So about one year ago when Lesser met Joe Guerriero, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who is now a healthcare recruiter for the military, he was glad to have a conversation with him. From what was first expected to be just informal military “chit-chat,” Guerriero’s message came off as very profound and serious. He told Lesser that not only there were serious shortages of physicians in the military, but the need was so great they would likely grant him a waiver for his age so that he could enlist. Lesser felt that the armed forces had given so much, he had the choice of continuing to be an observer from the sidelines or of making some small sacrifices and adjustments so that he could respond to his country's need. In the end his choice was very easy.
Lesser was appointed at the rank of major because of his advanced education, internship and residency training, and professional experience. During his medical career, he has provided hospital care, emergency medicine, critical care and newborn care.
He is scheduled to attend formal military education designed to train newly commissioned medical officers to function effectively in their first duty position. The first phase will be conducted through distance learning, while the second phase will be conducted as a 25-day resident course.
Lesser will continue to be a primary care physician at his practice in Holyoke, with a very large volume of patients of all ages, including many from the military. While he is away at training or other military duty, he has well-established network of doctors that will help him take care of his patients in Holyoke.
Lesser’s wife, Joan, is a mental health provider in Holyoke and a professor of social work at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. He has a son, Eric, 23, and two daughters, Rebecca, 20, and Julia, 14.
The Army National Guard is seeking healthcare professionals in general dentistry and physicians in the following specialties; orthopedic surgery, family practice; emergency medicine; and internal medicine. If you are a medical professional and would like to find out more information about joining the Massachusetts Army National Guard in the medical field please contact: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Andrea Couture at firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 962-5072;
Staff Sgt. Brooks Johnson at email@example.com or (774) 930-7770; or visit http://www.1800goguard.com/explore/medical/