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Happy Veteran’s Day 2024

November 10, 2023

Today we’d like to give a special shout out to our fellow sugar maker, Veteran Janet Geller-Lesko. We were honored for the opportunity to interview Janet for this article and share some of her experiences — both as a United States Navy Veteran, and a sugar maker.

Janet Geller-Lesko

US Navy Veteran

Thanks for joining us today, Janet. For starters, what was your branch/role in the military?

Janet: I was in the United States Navy from 1986-2007. I rose to the Officer rank of Commander/05. I was a Medical Service Officer, specializing in Hospital Administration.

In what location(s) did you serve? In the United States or abroad?

Janet: I mostly served at the Naval Hospital/Naval Health Clinic in Great Lakes, but travelled throughout the United States and abroad, inspecting medical and dental clinics. I also ran the regional TRICARE program, the military’s managed healthcare program which provides healthcare to active duty, their dependents, retirees and their dependents.

What did you find most rewarding / interesting about your time in service?

Janet: My most rewarding opportunity was, as a Jewish woman, (a distinct minority in the military), I was given the same opportunities as my male counterparts, as long as I took advantage of all opportunities and challenges. Also, I had a very varied career, from Inpatient/Outpatient Management to Decedent Affairs (supporting and facilitating care for those who had lost loved ones, and those who had been lost).

Sounds like you made a difference in a lot of people’s lives! Were there any lessons/principles learned in the military that have helped you today in your maple syrup business?

Janet: Patience, patience, patience!

Oh! Patience! Thats an important one! How did you get involved in the maple syrup industry?

Janet: Our son and daughter-in-law are quite the industrious couple! Besides full-time jobs, family and 40,000 bees, they set the hook for us to tap our trees and make maple syrup!

Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to about the upcoming maple season?

Janet: As last season was our first season, my husband and I look forward to tapping more trees this season!

Oh! Look out! Sounds like you have caught maple fever! Any other thoughts you would like to share in this article?

Janet: I was honored to serve in our Nation’s military. It was the BEST career I ever had! Thank you for this opportunity to share!

On behalf of all of us at Smoky Lake, we would like to thank Janet – and all veterans – for their service and commitment to our country. Happy Veterans’ Day! Thank you!

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