Oujiri takes the helm at IVH

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ
Col. (Ret.) Timon Oujiri assumed duties as the 19th commandant at the Iowa Veterans Home on May 22. Oujiri served in assignments in both the regular United States Army and the United States Army Reserve, on active duty for 31 years. He was employed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation within the Terrorist Screening Center in Washington, D.C., and as the Military Recruiting Operations Director at Hy-Vee, overseeing the nationwide efforts in recruiting veterans as staff for the grocery store chain, among other positions.

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Col. (Ret.) Timon Oujiri assumed duties as the 19th commandant at the Iowa Veterans Home on May 22. Oujiri served in assignments in both the regular United States Army and the United States Army Reserve, on active duty for 31 years. He was employed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation within the Terrorist Screening Center in Washington, D.C., and as the Military Recruiting Operations Director at Hy-Vee, overseeing the nationwide efforts in recruiting veterans as staff for the grocery store chain, among other positions.

Col. (Ret.) Timon Oujiri walks down the halls of the Iowa Veterans Home’s complex, chatting with residents, joking around with staff members, and smiling at everyone he meets. He’s on a mission to be on a first-name basis with IVH’s 565 plus residents and its over 1,000 employees.

“I am humbled, honored and thrilled to have been selected as the nineteenth commandant to care for our veterans. I know no higher honor,” Oujiri said.

His qualifications for this governor-appointed position are staggering.

Oujiri, a native of Cedar Rapids, is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Pittsburg State University, and a master’s degree in systems management from the University of Southern California.

He began his 31 years of active duty service in Mannheim, Germany as an executive officer for the 48th Postal Detachment. He then transferred to the 7th Signal Brigade as the assistant to the director of personnel. He held staff positions at battalion, brigade, Office of the Chief Army Reserve and Headquarters Department of the Army. Oujiri was one of the first two selected for Congressional Fellowships for the United States Army Reserve. He served on the staff of the Todd Tiahrt, U.S. House of Representatives, 4th Congressional District of Kansas. He served in the Pentagon in the Office of Congressional Legislative Liaison, working with both the United States Senate and House of Representatives.

His decorations include the Legion of Merit (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (seven awards), Army Commendation Medal (two awards), Army Achievement Medal (two awards), National Defense Service Medal (two awards), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Ten Year Hour Glass, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, Army Superior Unit Award, and the Army Staff identification Badge.

He retired in Dec. 2004 from active service. He was asked to return to active duty in January 2005 to join the Army Staff in Washington, DC. He served as the Senior Board member at the Army Review Boards Agency. In his position as a board member, he sat on a number of Determination Boards for Soldiers and Veterans including the Army Clemency & Parole Board.

Upon fully retiring from the United States Army, Oujiri was employed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation within the Terrorist Screening Center in Washington, DC.

In January 2016, he became the Military Recruiting Operations Director at Hy-Vee, overseeing the nationwide efforts in recruiting veterans as staff for the grocery store chain.

“I enjoyed my time at Hy-Vee immensely. It’s an outstanding company,” he said.

In April 2017, he received a phone call from the Office of the Governor inquiring as to whether or not he would be interested in the position of commandant at the Iowa Veterans Home.

“My name was submitted and a week later I interviewed with [then-Lt. Gov.] Reynolds,” he said. “I couldn’t say no to the offer to serve veterans everyday.”

Retired Brig. Gen. Jodi Tymeson served as the IVH’s commandant from October 2013 to May 1, 2017. Susan Wilkinson, licensed nursing home administrator, served as interim commandant before Oujiri assumed duties on May 22.

In his short tenure as commandant, Oujiri has identified several key goals. He would like to expand outreach efforts, provide residents with additional activities and programs and help oversee IVH’s new laundry facility project, which is set to be completed by February 2018, making it the largest project currently on campus.

“My goal is to have a wonderful, healthy and safe environment for our residents and staff. This is their home. ‘The happiest place on earth’ is already copyrighted by Disney, but I’d like to make the Iowa Veterans Home the second happiest place on earth,” Oujiri said.

In his free time, the commandant enjoys reading and traveling. He hopes to have the chance to resume sports officiating, perhaps at the local level. He resides in Cumming with his wife, Susan, of 36 years, and their three rescue cats.