Professor Jennifer Ruth 'Jenny' Firman AM was born in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1958. After finishing school in Glen Iris in 1975, she started a medical degree at the University of Melbourne.
In 1980, while still at uni, Jenny joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Under an undergraduate entry scheme, the RAN assigned her the rank of probationary acting sub-lieutenant. Jenny finished her degree in 1981, and the Navy promoted her to lieutenant in 1983.
Over 22 years of full-time service in the RAN, Jenny was posted to various positions, including service at sea in the training ship HMAS Jervis Bay during 1986 and 1987. Jenny also served at the naval hospital at HMAS Penguin and specialised in underwater medicine. She served as the Officer in Charge of the Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit from 1994 to 1996, as well as the senior health officer at the RAN Health Centre at HMAS Cerberus and as the medical officer at HMAS Stirling.
Jenny was promoted to lieutenant commander in 1988, commander in 1994 and captain in 2000. She served in several tri-service appointments in Canberra, where she was responsible for developing strategic and operational health policy.
Jenny left full-time service in 2002 and transferred to the RAN Reserve.
In 2003, Jenny was appointed as the first Chief Medical Officer for a newly created organisation, Defence Force Recruiting (DFR). Jenny was promoted to commodore in 2008 and appointed as Director General – Navy Health Reserve from 2008 to 2012. She was promoted to rear admiral in 2015 and appointed as the Surgeon General Australia Defence Force Reserve.
In 2019, Jenny was appointed Chief Health Officer at the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Rear Admiral Jennifer Ruth Firman was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2021: "For exceptional performance of duty in the field of military medicine".