US Army National Guard, 1980-2015
Retired Major General Deborah Ashenhurst comes from a family with a strong military history, with her father Robert, a Colonel in the US Army, being a great role model for her.
In 1978, Deborah joined the Ohio National Guard. During basic at Ft. Jackson she had the opportunity to audition for the US Army band as she was skilled on the clarinet. It was a hard audition, which she passed and was assigned to the 122nd Army band, which was tasked to entertain troops, be a recruiting tool, and represent the Army in communities in marches and orchestras. She was a nineteen-year-old Private First Class.
Debbie, (as she prefers to be addressed) enrolled at THE Ohio State University where she was active in ROTC. In 1980 she applied for and was accepted into Officer Candidate School. After completing Officer Basic School, she was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned as a Reconnaissance Officer with the 54th Support Center.
Debbie took a three-year hiatus while attached to the US Army Inactive Reserve, during which time she moved to Germany to support her husband who was assigned to a base in Frankfurt. Upon her return to Ohio she became active in the Ohio Army National Guard, where as a 1st Lieutenant she became an instructor at the Ohio Military Academy.
For the next three decades, until her retirement as a Major General in 2015, Deb worked tirelessly to learn, serve, lead, and break barriers long in place for women in the military. She has commanded and has held staff officer assignments at all levels from company, battalion, brigade, and Joint Force Headquarters. She constantly looked for new challenges and opportunities to push her out of her comfort zone.
Over her career Debbie was recognized for her tenacity, personality and leadership skills which led to her eventually being promoted to the Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard. She retired from this post in 2015.
Debbie is a very personable, humble, down to earth woman, who does not let her amazing accomplishments affect her caring and articulate way of communicating, in a very comfortable relaxing manner with civilians and veterans alike.
She gives much of the credit for her successes to a number of amazing mentors she met throughout her 37-year career.
During her military career Debbie received numerous awards and decorations, including the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (with one Silver and one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster) and the Joint Service Commendation Medal during her military career. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the University of New York-Albany earned in 1994. Debbie has continued her education through the United States War College throughout her military career.
Mistakenly believing she could relax and breathe after the end of her military career, Debbie was recently brought out of retirement when Governor Dewine appointed her to be the Director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services effective January 14, 2019.
Debbie and her husband Jim (US Army Colonel, retired) live in Hilliard, Ohio. They have a son Jimmy, a law enforcement officer, who has brought two wonderful grandchildren into their lives.