Wisconsin Army National Guard soldier from Warrens honored for outstanding volunteer service

Guard Battista Honored 2
Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, awards the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal to Sgt. 1st Class John Battista of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. (Contributed photo)

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WKBT) — A Wisconsin Army National Guard soldier from Warrens who was honored for his volunteer efforts both on and off duty credits his faith, family and chain of command for his ability to support so many initiatives.

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Sgt. 1st Class John Battista of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion poses with his family after receiving the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal during a recent surprise ceremony in Stevens Point. (Submitted photo)

Sgt. 1st Class John Battista, a member of the Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal during a recent surprise ceremony in Stevens Point.

The medal recognizes substantial volunteer service — considered above and beyond the call of duty — in a soldier’s local community.

Such service comes naturally to Battista, who said, “I believe as a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, we not only have a responsibility to the soldiers we lead, but also the community in which we serve.”

Battista is very active with his church, Bible Free Evangelical Church in Tomah, where his wife, Krishna, is the children’s ministry director.

He partnered with other church leaders to initiate a Care ministry that addresses a wide array of needs, such as mobilizing volunteer teams to respond quickly to reports of food or money shortages or people needing help relocating.

Battista organized a volunteer team to teach hunting safety education courses at the church to more than 100 students. He also developed a ministry to engage youths — primarily those with uninvolved fathers — in outdoor activities with a team of positive male role models.

Battista also filled in as a volunteer helper for the kindergarten and first grade Sunday school program at Bible Free until another volunteer could be installed.

He recently volunteered as lead counselor in a cabin at the Kentucky Mountain Mission’s Sunshine Camp, a Christian camp for adults with special needs.

Battista “won over the campers and other counselors alike” with his “positive and energetic compassion,” according to his award nomination, as well as helping his cabin win various camp competitions.

“My faith in Christ, my family and the soldiers I support have been the main focal point in my life for many years,” Battista said, adding that his personal and professional life is based on servant leadership to others.

Battista also volunteers with Family Promise of Monroe County, providing hospitality to families experiencing homelessness. He regularly transports people and beds for the program, and he serves as a volunteer EMT/firefighter at Camp Douglas, Wis.

Battista has invested countless hours connecting soldiers in crisis with services to address their immediate and long-term needs. He raised more than $3,000 for non-commissioned officer clubs by volunteering time to park cars for the Marshfield Clinic.

Lt. Col. Jeremy Duffy, Battista’s commander, described him as “an exemplary (noncommissioned) officer who consistently leads by example.”

“He not only excels at his duties as the retention NCO for the 108th Forward Support Company, but he regularly seeks out opportunities to give back to his community during his off-time,” Duffy said. “His actions and volunteer work inspire those around him to be and do better.”

Battista, who was surprised to receive the honor, spread the credit, saying, “If it had not been for the support from my chain of command and my family, I would not have been able to participate in these organizations.”

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