Vanessa M. Chattman was born in Newark, NJ. Her family moved to East Orange, NJ a few years later. She graduated from Clifford J. Scott High School in 1989. She joined the US Army in 1990 served on Active Duty for four years and ten months. She deployed to Desert Storm in 1990 and attended Vincennes University In 1993.She worked for the Department of Defense and Child Care Services from 1995 to 1998.