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Celebrating Women’s History Month: A healing hand in the Ohio National Guard for three decades

Tracy Ringo joined the Ohio National Guard 30 years ago as an enlisted medic and today she is a field surgeon and a colonel, making her the highest-ranking African-American woman in the Ohio Army National Guard. (Ohio National Guard graphic)

Story by Stephanie Beougher

Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Tracy Ringo joined the Ohio National Guard 30 years ago for the same reason many other men and women do — to get her college tuition paid for and graduate debt free. The experience she gained during the last three decades? Priceless.
A colonel since December 2014, Ringo enlisted in 1988 and began as a field medic with no rank on her collar. “I was pre-med and knew that the training in the military would enhance my skill set,” she said.

Today, she is a field surgeon and the highest-ranking African-American woman in the Ohio Army National Guard.

“The sense of pride I feel is overwhelming. It shows that hard work and dedication pay off,” she said of the accomplishment. “I am so proud and grateful for the ability to wear the uniform and mentor so many young Soldiers and give them a visual in me, that they too can achieve.”

Ringo, who serves in the Ohio Army National Guard Medical Detachment, has deployed twice, including a medical tour during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 in which she said she was supposed to be the doctor to captured Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He refused to be treated by a woman, so she helped Soldiers and Iraqi civilians at a medical clinic instead. Ironically, the clinic was set up in the presidential palace that was once home to Saddam.

Asked what’s been the most rewarding experience during her National Guard career, Ringo doesn’t hesitate to answer: “being able to take care of Soldiers.”

In her civilian career, she is a family physician in the Cleveland suburb of Garfield Heights and specializes in diseases of the skin. She credits her Ohio National Guard experience with providing discipline, structure and leadership qualities that have given her the courage to recently open a solo medical practice. Ringo said she thinks the National Guard provides the best opportunity for someone who wants to serve in the military while living in his or her community.

“The values you learn in the National Guard can be applied to every aspect of your life,” she said. “The military has helped me relate to many different people, adjust to many different situations and to improvise, when needed, to get the job done no matter what the situation.”

A 30-year career of healing Soldiers and civilians, Ringo serves as an example of the dedicated service Ohio National Guard Citizen-Soldiers provide to their communities, state and nation.

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