An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : News
NEWS | Feb. 21, 2024

All Rise: Married Army JAG officers promoted together during joint ceremony

By Staff Sgt. ShaTyra Reed-Cox U.S. Army South Public Affairs

It's not every day that a courthouse is the site for a promotion ceremony. But today, the Fort Sam Houston Courthouse at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston served as the perfect backdrop for the advancement of two distinguished Judge Advocate General's Corps officers, marking a significant milestone in the careers of a couple who have served their nation together with distinction for two decades.

A place typically reserved for legal proceedings and military court martials, bore witness to a historic moment as Lt. Col. Jennifer Venghaus, the U.S. Army South Judge Advocate, and her husband, Lt. Col. Joseph Venghaus, Trial Judge of Fort Cavazos’ Fifth Judicial Circuit, were promoted to the rank of colonel during a joint ceremony hosted by Maj. Gen. William Thigpen, U.S. Army South Commanding General.

“It’s an absolute honor for me to preside over a joint ceremony for what I would call an Army power couple,” Thigpen said. “It's a great day for the Army and the JAG Corps as we get to recognize two phenomenal officers, leaders, and Soldiers in front of their Families and friends. You are truly looking at the best and brightest the Army has to offer.”

Amidst the hallowed halls of justice, the Fort Sam Houston Courthouse was a fitting tribute and testament to their unwavering dedication, shared accomplishments, and enduring partnership.

“The courtroom is such a special place,” Judge Venghaus declared with conviction. “It is more than just a building; there is something about the gravity of this place. When you hear, ‘court is in session,’ it sucks all the air out of the room.”

The Venghauses’ story, which began during their college years at Southwestern University, has evolved into a remarkable narrative of service and excellence.

For more than 20 years, they’ve excelled in various roles within the legal arena, emerging as a dynamic duo within the Judge Advocate General's Corps.

“I have immense respect for Joe and Jennifer as officers, as attorneys, and as great people,” said Col. Jarrett Dunlap, the U.S. Forces Command Staff Judge Advocate. “They are the best team in the JAG Corps because they balance each other out and complement each other so well.”

Col. Jennifer Venghaus, renowned for her unwavering advocacy and leadership, expressed profound gratitude for the opportunity to continue serving her country at an elevated capacity.

“I wouldn’t be here without the tremendous peers, subordinates and leaders that I’ve had over the years,” said Jennifer. “My success is a tribute to everyone who has worked with me.”

She has held a multitude of positions, including legal assistance attorney, operational law attorney, command judge advocate, chief of criminal law, special victim prosecutor, and personnel law attorney at the Pentagon.

“The Army not only promotes you for what you have accomplished, but your potential to serve at higher levels with more responsibilities,” said Thigpen. “Jennifer’s tremendous resume absolutely speaks for itself, and it is no secret that she has a great reputation,”

Her steadfast commitment to upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of Soldiers reflects the highest ideals of military service.

“The Army has benefited from her years of service,” said Col. Bret Batdorff, the Chief Circuit Judge for the Second Judicial Circuit. “It brings a smile to my face that we will continue to reap the benefits of Jennifer for years to come.”

Similarly, Col. Joseph Venghaus, distinguished for his judicious temperament and unwavering dedication to justice within the Fifth Judicial Circuit, embraced the responsibilities accompanying his new rank.

“I am so honored to not only be promoted, but the be a judge. It’s such a special job,” said Judge Venghaus. “I’ve seen so many changes in the Army for the better. I want to keep that forward momentum and keep moving things forward.”

Dunlap describes Judge Venghaus as not only an expert in the courtroom, but also professional who carries justice in an appropriately balanced way.

“When I think of Joe, I think of balance in so many ways,” Dunlap said, highlighting Judge Venghaus’ diverse assignments throughout his career. “You can see Joe is perfectly balanced on the defense side and the government side. It’s no question why he is the right guy to be on the bench right now.”

Judge Venghaus has provided a full range of defense legal services to Soldiers in Germany and Iraq during his tenure in trial defense service. He served as the regional defense counsel in Kaiserslautern, Germany, as well as the chief of justice for 1st Special Forces Command. Additionally, he offered advice and training to trial counsels during his time at the Trial Counsel Assistance Program.

In addition to their individual achievements, this ceremony was also a testament to their exceptional teamwork as a married Army couple. Their story exemplifies a unique balance between military service and familial responsibilities.

Their journey is characterized by a seamless passing of the baton, supporting each other through deployments, the demands of military life, relocations, and the responsibilities of parenthood.

Dunlap recalls a time when he witnessed Joseph Venghaus in another important role.

“I was able to see him as an incredibly balanced dad,” Dunlap said with admiration. “While Jennifer and I were forward with V Corps, Joe was in the rear at Fort Knox. I heard updates from my wife on what a great job he did juggling two full time jobs: a super busy SJA and taking care of the kids at home.”

Their story resonates deeply with the challenges faced by dual-military couples, yet they have navigated these obstacles with resilience and grace, emerging stronger together.

The joint promotion of Colonels Venghaus symbolizes more than mere professional advancement; it underscores the strength of their shared resolve, the depth of their commitment to service, and the enduring power of partnership.

As they embark on this new chapter in their illustrious careers, they serve as beacons of inspiration to all who aspire to uphold the values of duty, honor, and country.

“I know the Army and military justice are in great hands!” Dunlap said.