945th Engineer Company introduces first female commander

Capt. Jill Hoffman addresses the Soldiers of the 945th Engineer Company for the first time as commander during a change of command ceremony at Norwalk Armory in Norwalk, Ohio Jan. 11, 2020. Hoffman has served in the unit as a platoon leader prior to taking this command. (Ohio National Guard photo by Sgt. Christine Lorenz)
January 12, 2020

For the new commander of the 945th Engineer Company, becoming the unit’s first female commander is an afterthought.

“It’s exciting,” said Capt. Jill Hoffman, 945th commander. “To be honest it wasn’t something I was tracking for long. In my experience in the military, the men and women have been supportive of my role as a female in leadership.”
Hoffman has been in male-dominated fields the past eight years. She is a firefighter in her civilian job and an engineer officer for the Ohio Army National Guard.

She joined the military in 2012 and was assigned to the 945th as a platoon leader after she graduated from college.

“I hadn’t really found my career at that point, and I knew I needed that fulfillment,” Hoffman said. “I wanted that sense of being part of something bigger, and the military had always been something in the back of my head.”

Her military career helped springboard her civilian career to become a firefighter with the Toledo Fire Department.

“I want to be part of something bigger,” Hoffman said. “I want to help people Monday through Friday whenever I can. Being in the National Guard provided an opportunity when the Toledo fire department was hiring. I applied, and I got the job.”

From there she was able to have her military and civilian careers overlap, as she became the commander of 5694th, 295th and the 296th Engineer Fire Detachments in Mansfield, Ohio.

“Being a civilian firefighter, I had the opportunity to apply my knowledge from that as a commander of the fire detachments,” Hoffman said. “I was able to pull some experience like how we acquire gear, our standards for that. There was a conference I was able to go to, get all different perspectives to get and bring to the Guard side of that and vise versa, taking the Guard’s approach to things and passing that to the civilian side.”

With her career being set, she started to develop her personal life by fostering a child.

“Lucas County has a need for foster parents,” said Hoffman. “So we just started on Saturdays going to the classes, saying, ‘Well, if this works, we will do it,’ and kept progressing until we went through the home study and got certified. They gave us a call that they had a kid that needed a home, and it is absolutely a blessing for us more than anything else.’”

Coming back to the 945th has Hoffman excited to come back to have her soldiers take on new challenges and see their success.

“There have been some changes,” Hoffman said. “It went from a horizontal company to an engineer support company. So, when I was leaving, that third platoon I was platoon leader for is now a vertical platoon. I am excited to get hands on to see the challenges they have and what I can do to make their mission more successful. There are supposed to be some potential opportunities for travel for these Soldiers to get hands on, actual success in their mission so they know what their job is and actually see accomplishments they see from the real world. This has a home feel to it, and I’m excited to be back.”