Headshot composite of 2 NGAUS Award recipients.

Courtesy photos / Ohio National Guard photo illustration

The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) recently announced Ohio Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Deena Ratliff (left) as a winner of the Eagle Rising Award for Army National Guard warrant officers and Capt. Jill Hoffman as a recipient of its Theodore Roosevelt Leadership Award for junior officers. The awards were presented during the 143rd annual NGAUS General Conference & Exhibition Aug. 27-30, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nev.

2 Ohio National Guard members honored with 2021 NGAUS awards

Story by Bill Pierce, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

COLUMBUS, Ohio (10/06/21)

Two Ohio National Guard Soldiers have earned national recognition for their achievements and dedicated service to their communities, state and nation. Capt. Jill Hoffman, 945th Engineer Company commander, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Deena Ratliff, 16th Engineer Brigade human resources technician, wear many hats — community volunteer, foster parent, firefighter and Girl Scout troop leader are just a few examples.

They also serve as mentors and guides who consistently apply leadership qualities to fellow Soldiers, and successfully train, mentor and coach them to better themselves throughout their careers. For these reasons, they have been recognized as positive role models within the National Guard.

The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) recently presented Hoffman, of Toledo, Ohio, with the Theodore Roosevelt Leadership Award for company grade officers; and Ratliff, of Dublin, Ohio, with the Eagle Rising Award for Army National Guard warrant officers.

Leadership Service

The Theodore Roosevelt Leadership Award was established to recognize the achievements and dedicated service of Army and Air National Guard junior officers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and professionalism in their service to country and community.


Capt. Jill Hoffman

Capt. Jill Hoffman — Toledo, Ohio 

Hoffman’s first command was with the 5694th Engineer Detachment (Firefighting), located in Mansfield, Ohio, where she was responsible for the only Army firefighters in the state and faced many unique challenges. Upon successful completion of that command she was selected in January 2020 as commander of the 945th Engineer Company, located in Norwalk, Ohio (READ STORY).

She is a member of both NGAUS and the Ohio National Guard Association (ONGA), and keeps an active role in the 112th Engineer Battalion Officers Association by providing leadership to the cadets, noncommissioned officers and junior officers in her company.

“I trust my achievements are viewed as a direct reflection of the invaluable support provided by my family and support networks,” Hoffman said. “I have been privileged to surround myself with outstanding leadership and selflessness modeled by mentors, fellow Guardsmen of all ranks, first responders, and everyone else fighting to navigate a pandemic while keeping up their efforts to make their world a better place. I am humbled and grateful to represent them.”

This past year, Hoffman has selflessly volunteered for multiple COVID-19 response missions. She provided command and control for 120 Soldiers at 10 prisons around Ohio. After that mission, she immediately transitioned to an officer in charge position to lead about 100 Soldiers at Ohio’s community vaccination center at Cleveland State University.

Hoffman has been a member of the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department since 2016, where she takes a very active role in community outreach, public education and recruitment. Most recently, she coordinated a program to help take drugs off the street of the local community. The main focus is educating the community and providing alternate opportunities for the youth living in the area.

Hoffman fosters two children through Lucas County Children Services and is in the process of adopting one of them, with plans to adopt the other in the future.

Dedicated Service

The Eagle Rising Award was established to recognize the achievements and dedicated service of Army National Guard warrant officers (up to the rank of chief warrant officer three), who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, technical skills and professionalism in their services to country and community.


Chief Warrant Officer 2 Deena Ratliff

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Deena Ratliff — Dublin, Ohio 

Ratliff is a lifetime member of both NGAUS and the ONGA. She has served as the state warrant officer strength manager and is currently assigned as the brigade human resources technician for the 16th Engineer Brigade in Columbus, Ohio, where she serves as the subject matter expert on all items related to Army human resources. She provides HR services, personnel support, HR guidance and planning to all 1,650 Soldiers within the brigade. Ratliff sets herself apart from her peers by demonstrating her commitment to the organization, natural leadership abilities and genuine care for Soldiers.

“I am incredibly honored to have been selected for the Eagle Rising Award. We have so many amazing warrant officers that do so much for our organization and their community. I am just truly grateful to those who found me worthy of this achievement,” Ratliff said. “I really enjoy helping others, whether that be a Soldier who wants to become a warrant officer, digging into policy to find that one exception, or just simply showing a group of Girl Scouts how to heat up an MRE (a military meal, ready to eat). To me, helping others and finding ways to improve our organization is part of our job.”

For the past four years, Ratliff has volunteered as a Girl Scout troop leader and planned all meetings and activities, managed income from cookie sales and all expenditures as the troop’s trustee and led outdoor excursions quarterly. She also has been an active member of her daughter’s school parent-teacher organization for the past two years.