Lt. Col. Jennifer Dunning Venghaus ’00
2023 Distinguished Professional Award Recipient
Formidable. Fearless. Fair, yet firm. These are just some of the words used to describe Lt. Col. Jennifer Dunning Venghaus ’00. A career Army officer and lawyer, Venghaus has earned a reputation as a dedicated soldier, legal expert, and transformational leader.
“Jennifer models the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage,” says Col. Andrew M. McKee. “She is the leader I want our younger judge advocates to emulate because she holds herself to the highest standards of legal and soldier professionalism.”
Venghaus’s spouse, Lt. Col. Joseph K. Venghaus ’00, would add another word to the list: tenacious. “When she went to airborne school to become a military paratrooper, she twisted her ankle walking off of the field she had jumped into. Unwilling to drop out, she completed her final training jumps injured while hiding the injury from the instructors,” he remembers. “One noticed her limping and made her jump on the leg to see if she was too injured to proceed. By the time she graduated and got home, her ankle was so swollen that it would not fit in her boot.”
After graduating from Southwestern with her bachelor’s degree in accounting and political science and chairing the University Committee on Discipline, Venghaus went on to earn her law degree from the University of Richmond in 2003. She joined the Army ROTC while in law school and entered active duty as a judge advocate in 2004. She later earned her master of laws with a specialty in criminal law from the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School and her master of military arts and sciences from the Command and General Staff College.
During two deployments in Iraq, Venghaus strived to ensure the rights of Iraqi citizens and help Iraqi officials rebuild their justice system. As a special victim prosecutor at Fort Hood, Texas, she prosecuted some of the most difficult and heinous cases in the Army’s recent history. She has attended conferences in Russia, performed the legal work to establish a U.S. military presence in Poland and Romania, and led a legal team as they responded to recent military crises in Europe.
Venghaus currently serves as deputy staff judge advocate at the V Corps headquarters at Fort Knox, Kentucky. She is responsible for managing a field legal office of 25-30 permanently assigned legal personnel and about 75 rotational lawyers and paralegals operating out of Fort Knox and eight countries in eastern Europe.
“Jennifer is a person of tremendous capacity. She has an incredible memory, and the breadth and depth of her knowledge of the law and the complexities of the Army operations process is truly unique in our field,” says Lt. Col. Garrison Daniel Groh. “Just resting on these gifts, she would be an extremely capable attorney and officer. However, Jennifer does not rest on her natural talent, and her prodigious work ethic is truly second to none.”
Venghaus’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Meritorious Service Medal (with five Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal (with one Oak Leaf Cluster), the Army Achievement Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal (with two Campaign Stars), and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. She is also entitled to wear the Army Parachutist Badge, Army Staff Identification Badge, German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (Gold), German Armed Forces Parachutist Badge, Royal Thai Army Airborne Wings, and Royal Australian Parachute Badge.
“Jennifer consistently puts the welfare of others ahead of her own and has dedicated her professional life to improving justice and the rule of law around the world in very real ways,” Joseph Venghaus says.
For her exceptional achievements and commitment to serving her profession and her country, the Southwestern University Alumni Association is proud to honor Jennifer Dunning Venghaus with the Distinguished Professional Award.