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A native of Illinois, General Vaught earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana from which she received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 1983; she also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Affairs from Columbia College, SC. She is the first Air Force woman graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
During her military career, she held various positions in the comptroller field at Barksdale AFB, LA; Zaragoza AFB, Spain; McCoy AFB, Orlando, FL; HQ, Military Assistance Command, Saigon, Vietnam; USAF Logistics Command, Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH; the Air Staff, The Pentagon, Washington, DC; and she was the Deputy Chief of Staff, Comptroller, USAF Systems Command, Andrews AFB, MD. General Vaught served as Chairperson of the NATO Women in the Allied Forces Committee from 1983 to 1985 and was the senior woman military representative to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services from 1982 to 1985.