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From her earliest days growing up in the Texas Panhandle, Leasha West seemed destined to lead and to serve, blazing dynamic trails while dedicating her life to helping others.

In addition to being a highly decorated Marine Corps veteran, she is a respected community leader and prominent philanthropist. With the explosive success of her full service firm West Insurance & Financial Group, Inc., she is now recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts in retirement planning and insurance.

As a member of a 10th generation military family that traces its roots back to the American Revolution, she grew up hearing incredible stories of heroic relatives and idolizing her favorite uncles who served as Marines. Always up for the challenge of picking the hardest course of action, she became the first female Marine in her family (there had been women Army members). Leasha’s dedication to her duties, her unit and her country propelled her to become a Sergeant in less than two years through meritorious promotions, instead of the typical rank advancement to Sergeant only after 4+ years of service.

When her time of service in the Marines ended, she immediately gravitated towards the financial services industry. Growing up, she had fond memories of her Dad sitting her down at the kitchen table, laying out all of the bills and teaching her how to budget. As a result of being groomed for business at such a young age, she was always skilled at handling money.

But it was another set of childhood memories that ultimately prompted her to evolve from her position as an investment advisor with a large national brokerage house to launching West Insurance & Financial Group – where she could offer more personalized and varied services to seniors and baby boomers in need of financial guidance. Her mother worked as a health care nurse in private residences and nursing homes and shared sad stories of the patients she assisted – including those of her own mother who was institutionalized with ALS at a young age. Leasha also recalls visiting several family members throughout her whole life who spent their last years in nursing homes.

“All my life, I wondered why so many people, including my dear relatives, had no choice but to end up in a nursing home,” she says. “If a person seeks proper planning early on, they can remain in the comfort of their home in the event they become frail or unable to care for themselves.”

As she researched, it became clear to Leasha that proper planning strategies needed to be formulated and families needed to have conversations in earlier years to prevent loved ones from living in nursing homes. She realized the problem was a breakdown in retirement planning – neglecting to consult a trained financial professional who is well-versed and well-educated in all aspects of this service.

Ironically, just as she was researching these issues, many of her senior clients at the big firm were asking her what she knew about Social Security and for help on such issues as understanding Medicare. She started learning about areas of retirement that were not part of her current job description. Leasha immediately realized there was a special niche she could fill and that in order to do what’s right she had to start her own company – and create customized plans for clients without the possibility of conflicting with company policy.

Considering her history of meeting tough challenges, it didn’t take long for Leasha to establish a stronghold. But there was no magic to her marketing. As she puts it, she simply outworked everyone else. Because it’s a realm dear to her heart, she also spoke to many veterans and educated them about military benefits they might not be aware of, such as the Aid and Attendance pension for wartime vets 65 and older who could be eligible for a lifelong tax-free income.

“Similar to the military, I help provide security for people and their families for generations to come” she adds. “My big eye opener was that every household needs professional guidance, because sometimes even the smallest things can make a huge difference in a person’s finances. Everyone is eventually going to face the same issues that affect families and loved ones. It’s important to plan well in advance and create a barrier to protect your wealth from your health.”

Leasha’s mission, as stated on her website, is a dedication to “educating and equipping our clients in the protection of their assets, investments and savings from losses due to volatile markets, taxation, probate court or an extended illness…We have made a commitment to excellence in everything we do. Our goal is to exceed our clients’ expectations at all times.” Though the strategies she designs with each client differs on their specific financial situation and needs moving forward, she follows a general three point philosophy: 1) Preserve The Portfolio; 2) Generate Income Through Cash Flow; and 3) Use Growth to Offset Inflation.

Among West Insurance & Financial Group’s array of services are those involving all Personal, Business and Commercial Lines of Insurance, Retirement Planning, 401K/IRA Rescue, Medicare Insurance, Long Term Care, Social Security Maximization Planning, Estate & Legacy Planning, Life Insurance, Annuities, Funeral Trusts, Disability Insurance or Income Protection, and Life Settlements.

“Essentially, I see my job as planning in advance in order to avoid that troublesome ‘Oh My Gosh!’ moment that hits seniors who are unprepared for the financial issues that come with a certain age,” she says. “The reality is, nobody wants to confront the fact that they’re aging. Another important obstacle I work to overcome is that a lot of families don’t like to discuss money, especially with the older generation. Younger people don’t spend as much time with their grandparents and older relatives; the generations just aren’t as connected with each other like they were when I was a girl.”

Leasha’s service and leadership skills have made her a powerful force in her community; and as a result of her outstanding volunteerism, she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award by President Barack Obama. She sits on the Board of Directors for Pretty Lake Camp and serves on the National Board for the Women Marines Association.

In addition to her community involvement, Leasha is an award-winning and multiple best-selling author. She is a multi-year member of the Million Dollar Round Table, was selected as one of America's PremierExperts®, was named to the Circle of Excellence by the Women in Insurance and Financial Services (WIFS), was chosen as one of North America’s Elite Women in Insurance by Insurance Business America Magazine, and won the coveted Industry Elite Award by National Underwriter Life & Health Magazine.

As she continues to redefine the financial future of her clients by giving them the tools they need to take charge of their finances, for nearly two decades, Leasha has proactively educated her community in financial strategies, helped clients identify hidden assets and encouraged her audiences to turn missed opportunities into second chances. She is frequently called on by local and national public media for her ability to communicate, teach and transfer her innovative and rarefied financial skills. She is also the official spokeswoman for The American College, located in Bryn Mawr, PA.

“I truly believe that outside of serving my country in the Marine Corps, I have the most gratifying job in the world,” she says. “I give families peace of mind, improve their standard of living, help them take charge of their health care and hopefully through my efforts, prevent them from going to a nursing home. My goal is to make things easy and understandable and leave very little to chance. Everyday I strive to improve people’s lives and elevate the standards of practice.”