Brigadier General Catherine Jumper, commander of the Virginia Air National Guard (Virginia ANG), is truly an inspirational leader in the community with a strong commitment to serving her country. Having served in the United States Air Force for the last 28 years, and serving in the Virginia ANG for the last eight years, Jumper remains passionate about protecting the United States, alongside her hard-working and dedicated team of airmen.
After joining the University of Virginia’s ROTC program, it wasn’t long before Jumper discovered that program offered a scholarship for technical majors. Having declared a math major early on, Jumper leaped at the chance. A few years later, joining the military straight out of college, Jumper commissioned into the Air Force upon graduating from the University of Virginia.
Jumper spent 10 years on active duty and later transitioned into the reserve’s component of the Air Force. “When I joined, I thought I was only going to serve for four years based on the scholarship commission requirement, but as time went on, I found I really loved it, and I enjoyed the people with whom I worked in addition to serving my country,” says Jumper.
Jumper later joined the Virginia ANG at the 20-year mark of her career, becoming a part-time guardsman. “I joined the part-time component when I wanted to start a family because it allowed me to have more flexibility in my schedule,” Jumper says. “Being a part-time guardsman also allows for people to work a full-time job because you’re only on duty one weekend a month, and two weeks a year,” Jumper adds. She further explains that it’s quite common for airmen to become lawyers or first responders in the civilian world.
With husband Matt of 18 years and two sons, John, 14 and Ryan, 12, and their Wirehaired Vizsla, Jackson, Jumper spends much time with her family and attending many sporting events. In her spare time, she enjoys watching her sons play for their school baseball and football teams, as well as gardening, cooking with her husband, and exercising. “I am also passionate about academics, so I am always making sure my boys have time to study and do their homework. My family life is busy, but it’s fun,” Jumper says.
When asked what motivates her to succeed in her career, Jumper responds, “Having the opportunity to work alongside some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known is what motivates me to put my uniform on and keep working hard for them every day, so they have what they need in the event an emergency response is needed.”
As a leader with an array of responsibilities while on duty, Jumper’s main focus is geared towards long-term strategic planning in addition to supporting other leadership roles on base. “Being in more of a leadership role, I focus on supporting our wing commander as well as other leadership at Langley Air Force Base to help ensure that all 1,300 airmen on the wing have the tools they need to respond to a domestic or national level emergency, if and when called upon,” says Jumper.
With a drive for continuous community involvement, Jumper explains, “the Virginia Air National Guard is comprised of local service members who live in the Commonwealth of Virginia, all of whom directly work for the Governor of Virginia, as well as the Department of Defense for federal missions.” Jumper says the airmen in the Virginia ANG are dedicated to protecting the local community. “We are the ones who set up hurricane evacuation centers, clear the roads after a bad winter storm and other domestic emergencies when called upon,” she says.
With a mission to serve the community, the Virginia ANG also partners with local schools to assist with field trips as chaperones, and even setting up simulation centers at local high schools so students in JROTC programs can receive legitimate aviation training and exposure early on. “We always want to serve our community, so we are constantly looking for new ways to get further involved with local schools and organizations,” Jumper adds.
In her personal life, Jumper also maintains community service through her local church and food pantry to donate, pack and deliver food to those in need, in addition to partnering with local support organizations. With a strong focus and passionate dedication to serve our country and community, Jumper strives to put her best foot forward each and every day and continues to be a vision of inspiration for generations to come.
TO THE POINT:
Brigadier General Catherine Jumper
Commander of the Virginia Air National Guard, Virginia Beach, Virginia