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Ross served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from 1965 to 1996. As a junior officer he served West Berlin, at the height of the Cold War. Between 1996 and 1998, he was Commandant of Garelochhead Army Training Area, and between 1998 and 2003 of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Battalion of the Army Cadet Force. He is deputy chairman of the Southern Area Committee of Highland Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, and member of the Executive Committee of Erskine Hospital. He was further a member of the Church of Scotland Committee on Chaplains to the Armed Forces.
Ross became Deputy Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire in 2004, and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the following year. In 2007, he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire. He is married and has three children.
The Daily Record reported that 450 troops from his regiment saluted him on December 11, 2008, while celebrating their return from service in wartorn Afghanistan. Ross resigned as Lord Lieutenant in 2008, being replaced by Rear Admiral Michael Gregory.
- "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 24 June 2013. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/archive/2013-6-24.html. Retrieved 23 June 2014. "Col Donald Ross, Lord–Lieutenant for Dunbartonshire, 2007–08, 67"
- "Lord-Lieutenant for Dunbartonshire: Biographical notes". Number 10 Downing Street. 2007-02-12. Archived from the original on 2007-02-20. https://web.archive.org/web/20070220064344/http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/page10968.asp. Retrieved 2015-01-05.
- "Ponies and Pony Majors: Donald Ross remembers Cruachan II". Remembering Scotland at War. Archived from the original on 2015-01-06. https://web.archive.org/web/20150106032147/http://www.rememberingscotlandatwar.org.uk/Accessible/Exhibition/225/Ponies-and-Pony-Majors. Retrieved 2015-01-05.
- "Donald Ross remembers Berlin". Remembering Scotland at War. http://www.rememberingscotlandatwar.org.uk/Accessible/Exhibition/221/Berlin-Cold-War-soldiering. Retrieved 2015-01-05.
- "Soldiers to march through Dumbarton". Daily Record. 2008-09-26. Archived from the original on 2015-01-06. https://web.archive.org/web/20150106031600/http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/soldiers-to-march-through-dumbarton-2627730. Retrieved 2015-01-05. "The soldiers will salute assembled dignitaries including army officers, Lord Lieutenant Donald Ross and West Dunbartonshire provost Denis Agnew before gathering for a celebratory reception in the town’s Burgh Hall."
- "Lord-Lieutenant for Dunbartonshire". The Government Says. Archived from the original on 2015-01-06. https://web.archive.org/web/20150106032627/http://www.thegovernmentsays.com/comments/312923. Retrieved 2015-01-05. "The Queen has been pleased to appoint Rear Admiral Michael Gregory OBE as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the Area of Dunbartonshire upon the resignation of Colonel Donald Grant Ross OBE."