By Annie Rhoades
The chance to serve one’s country can come in many different forms. The choice of which military branch to serve in and in what capacity can be difficult, but for alumna Maj. Jennifer D. Mullins (JD 04), USAF JAG Corps, it was easy.
“As far as me being a JAG officer it’s going to sound really cheesy,” Mullins said. “When I was in junior high I saw A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise and I said, ‘Mom I want to do that when I grow up.’ She said, ‘that’s great baby girl, but do it for the Air Force not the Navy.’ I grew up in an Air Force town with Keesler Air Force base being in Biloxi, and both of my grandfathers served in the Army Air Corps in WWII.”
A Gulf Coast native, Mullins graduated from Biloxi High School in 1996 and enrolled at Mississippi College the following fall.
“MC was the right choice for me at the right time for undergrad,” Mullins said. “I don’t want to say I regret not coming to Ole Miss for undergrad, but I do sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have that more prototypical type college experience rather than going to a small private school.”
A history and pre-law major, Mullins received her bachelor’s degree in 2000 and soon accepted a job with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi.
“I was kind of burned out from school my senior year of undergrad at Mississippi College and told my folks I didn’t think I wanted to go to law school right away,” Mullins recalled. “So I’m sitting in my cubicle at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi on 9/11, and the towers fall. I said to myself okay I get it. It’s time to go to law school and make this JAG thing happen. That was the sign for me to become a JAG and serve my country.”
The daughter of two Ole Miss alumni, Roland (BSPH 73) and Juanita (BS 73), Mullins grew up cheering on the Rebels and knew there was no other choice than Ole Miss for law school.
“I always knew I was going to be an Ole Miss Rebel,” Mullins said. “The phenomenal reputation of the law school made it an easy choice. It was the only school I applied to.”
She enrolled in the UM School of Law in the fall of 2002 with her sights set on ultimately entering the JAG Corps.
“I thought I was going into the JAG Corps in 2005 when I passed the Bar, but God has His own hand in things, and I ended up not getting selected for the JAG Corps right away,” Mullins said. “It turned out to be such a blessing in disguise, because after Katrina hit in August 2005 I spent two years doing disaster relief work along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans.”
Mullins soon reapplied with the Air Force and after interviewing at Keesler Air Force base on Sept. 18, 2007, the Air Force’s birthday, she was selected to begin active duty in the summer of 2008.
She then went for an initial physical at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in New Orleans followed by a five-week long stint in officer training school in Montgomery before a nine-week course at the Air Force JAG School.
“I was already a lawyer and had my law license, but I didn’t know how to be a lawyer for the military,” Mullins said. “After completing all of the training I went to my first base in Tucson, Arizona, as a first lieutenant where I was a military prosecutor.”
Mullins began traveling the world completing assignments in Korea and Germany followed by a six-month deployment to Afghanistan in 2013.
“I didn’t volunteer for deployment, but I was happy to go,” Mullins said. “It’s part of why I joined up after 9/11 – to go and do my part. It comes with mixed emotions. I didn’t want to be somewhere where I could be blown up by a mortar attack or IED, but it’s part of being in the uniformed service. I’m glad I went and had the opportunity to experience that.”
After returning from deployment Mullins landed at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia, in September 2013 where she currently serves as Chief of Contract Law for HQ Air Force Reserve Command, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.
“When I was in Germany I got into doing government contract reviews,” Mullins said. “Now I’m at a Major Command doing government contracts not just for the base where I’m at but for all of Air Force Reserve Command.”
On Sept. 1, 2015, Mullins was promoted to the rank of Major, a title achieved through at least six years of service and a thorough review by the promotion board.
“My favorite part of what I do is the people with whom I get to work with and being part of the Air Force family,” Mullins said. “It’s great to get to work with like-minded individuals each day and know that we’re all doing something greater than ourselves. It’s by far the people that make the duty and the mission worthwhile.”