By Master Sgt. Jeff Lowry
| 38th Infantry Division | Feb. 14, 2020
Ohio National Guard Lt. Col. Matt Crawford, deployed as the protection chief in support of Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East, is sworn in for his next term as veterans service commissioner by Maj. Gen. Gordon L. Ellis, 38th Infantry Division commanding general, Jan. 17, 2020. (Photo by Master Sgt. Jeff Lowry)
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION – An Ohio National Guardsman plays an integral part in protecting approximately 10,000 troops supporting Task Force Spartan throughout the Middle East.
Lt. Col. Matt Crawford, the 38th Infantry Division's protection chief, oversees and coordinates protection measures from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive attacks, engineer survivability and personnel recovery efforts.
"The protection warfighting function is about economy of force and ensuring forces are available to the commander when needed, which is why we have our rapid reaction forces and quick reaction force," said Crawford.
While deployed to the Middle East supporting Task Force Spartan, which helps strengthen U.S. defense relationships and build partner capacity, Crawford has worked alongside forces from U.S. partnered nations.
"They are very interested in learning how the United States conducts military operations and would like to be more like us," said Crawford.
Crawford draws on a wealth of military experience to help guide him.
"Over the years I have had opportunities to attend leadership meetings where I was able to interact with senior leaders at the state and national level," said Crawford. "It has also taught me to always remember the service members on the front line. It does not matter what level anyone ascends to; we are all in it for those service members on the front line."
As Crawford sees it, his service and the lessons he's learned helped himself and his family.
"The National Guard has benefited me because it has allowed me to grow as a person and as a Soldier," said Crawford. "It has taught my family to be both independent and resilient – whether for a state active-duty mission, a humanitarian mission or an overseas deployment."
Crawford, an Afghanistan combat veteran, joined the National Guard in January 1990 while he attended John Carroll University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in communications. He commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1994 from Ohio's officer candidate school.
While deployed to the Middle East, Crawford hasn't forgotten about his civilian job, where he is a federal technician as an administration officer for the Ohio National Guard's facilities management office, nor his duties in Hardin County helping to assist veterans, active-duty service members, their spouses or dependents.
"I consider this taking care of the person, whereas in my technician position I deal with the National Guard facilities around the state of Ohio, taking care of places where military members conduct their training," said Crawford.
In all of Crawford's duties, he sees a synergy of his two civilian roles and military role.
"Both relate to my military service because as a veteran of the National Guard having served 30 years, I have seen a lot at many different levels and have dealt with soldiers at all levels so have a greater idea of what veterans coming in for assistance have been through," said Crawford.