A former Civil Air Patrol cadet — now a CAP wing commander with more than 40 years of leadership and management skills in military, volunteer, civilian, and federal government service — will soon command the organization’s Southeast Region.
This week, Col. Jeffrey L. Garrett was appointed the region’s next commander by Maj. Gen. Edward D. Phelka, CAP’s national commander/CEO. Garrett will succeed Col. Andrea Van Buren, who has commanded the six-wing region since August 2019.
Garrett, Georgia Wing commander since October 2019, will assume command at the Georgia Wing Conference in September.
“Col. Garrett was selected from among a highly competitive field of candidates because of his demonstrated outstanding leadership and his strategic acumen,” Phelka said.
“I have the highest confidence that Col. Garrett’s varied senior leadership experience both inside and outside CAP will continue the legacy of excellence in the Southeast Region.”
Before he became Georgia Wing commander, Garrett served as deputy chief of staff of the Southeast Region and was active as a leader of the region’s cadet and aerospace education programs.
“I am excited about the challenges ahead and look forward to an opportunity to assist in serving, guiding, and leading such an outstanding organization,” Garrett said.
During his CAP career, which started when he was a cadet in Rome, Georgia, from 1973-1977, Garrett has served in several wings as well as in an overseas squadron while also serving in the U.S. Air Force.
Under Garrett’s command, the Georgia Wing:During Garrett’s command, the Georgia Wing:
- Demonstrated sustained mission excellence despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Developed and maintained strong relationships with partners in CAP-USAF’s Southeast Region, the Georgia adjutant general, and the commanding general of the Georgia Air National Guard.
- Guided the wing to one of its most successful compliance inspections, with only three findings that required a response and no repeat findings.
- Worked with the wing’s operations team to ensure the growth of the CAP glider program, Junior ROTC orientation flights, and hot-air balloon flights.
“The Georgia National Guard partnered closely with Col. Garrett and his team, especially during our state’s COVID-19 response,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Carden Jr., Georgia’s adjutant general. “Despite countless challenges, he has always been engaged and eager to assist.”
While wing commander, Garrett has served as a member of CAP’s National Awards and Promotions Review Board and as an instructor for all five levels of the organization’s Volunteer University training program.
He also assisted the national vice commander, Brig. Gen. Regena Aye, with updated COVID remobilization plans and was a member on the CAP Strategic Plan Work Group.
Before he served in the Southeast Region and became Georgia Wing commander, Garrett’s CAP service included extensive involvement at the squadron level in Nebraska and Georgia and in Germany.
His military service overseas allowed him to volunteer with CAP’s Ramstein Air Base Cadet Squadron in 1987 as the unit’s aerospace education officer, emergency services officer, and later as deputy commander. While stationed in Germany, he also volunteered at two CAP encampments — one as medical officer and the other as commandant of cadets.
Upon returning to the States, Garrett was first a member of the Nebraska Wing’s Offutt Composite Squadron while also serving in the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department.
Most recently, following stints in Georgia as an aerospace education officer and deputy commander for cadets as well as deputy commander for adult members, he commanded the Barrow-Jackson Composite Squadron, and helped turn the unit into a model for recruitment and retention. The squadron earned CAP’s Quality Cadet Unit Award each year of his command, the Unit Citation twice, and Wing Squadron of Merit — all first-time awards for the unit.
Garrett also served as the wing’s director of aerospace education and revitalized the program. He received high praise from the compliance inspection team for his efforts and accomplishments in only one year.
With his background as a firefighter and emergency medical technician, Garrett has taken part in several search and rescue missions and exercises and has earned the CAP Find Ribbon.
AAs a CAP member, he holds Master ratings in Command, Cadet Programs, Aerospace Education, and Professional Development and Technician ratings in Emergency Services and Inspector General. He is mission scanner- and mission observer-qualified with CAP.
Outside CAP, Garrett earned a master’s in public administration and a bachelor’s in business, both from Bellevue University in Nebraska.
He served 16 years in the Air Force, reaching the rank of master sergeant as a security police squadron superintendent while protecting installations, personnel, information, and some of the nation’s highest-priority military resources.
He was an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Security Police Academy and achieved the rating of Master Instructor, the highest award an instructor can achieve. He also served as adjunct faculty/staff for the Community College of the Air Force.
Garrett later worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for 25 years, retiring in April 2021. He was chief of police for one of the VA’s largest police departments in Atlanta as well as chief for the entire VA in Nebraska. He later served as the acting associate director (chief operating officer) for the Charleston VA (seven months) in South Carolina, Atlanta VA (18 months), and the Central Alabama VA (four months), and was responsible for thousands of employees and budgets in excess of $600 million.
In his final role with the VA, he served as a supervisory health systems specialist (operations manager) within the Atlanta VA Medical Center Office of Community Care, overseeing 97 employees in a combined clinical and administratively staffed unit for coordinating all veteran care in the community.
Garrett’s awards and accolades include Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Air Force Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, Firefighter of the Year, Rescue Officer of the Year, Chief of Police of the Year, and Georgia Wing Senior Member of the Year.