June 01, 2021

Rep. Mike Levin Releases Report Nominating Two Distinguished Women Veterans to be Honored at San Diego VA Medical Center

Oceanside, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) released a report created by a panel of local servicemembers, veterans, and other community leaders with recommendations to rename the San Diego Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center after U.S. Army CPT Jennifer M. Moreno, a highly-decorated combat veteran from San Diego who was killed in action during a deployment to Afghanistan in October 2013. The report also recommends that a facility within the VA Medical Center in San Diego be named after U.S. Navy CAPT Kathleen M. Bruyere, a longtime San Diego resident who helped shape the military’s policies on sexual discrimination and was instrumental in expanding opportunities for women in the Navy.

The panel was led by Army Veteran and Carlsbad resident Karin Brennan. Other members include Jodie Grenier (USMC), Karen Foore (USN), Jessica Brown (Military Spouse), Terry “Skip” Curtis (USMC), Mollie Juberien (USMC), Kassandra Perry (USN), Edwin Gombio (USN), Charles Anderson (USMC), Janessa Goldbeck (USMC), and Gustavo Aguilar (USMC). Their full report is available here.

“As we continue to reflect on Memorial Day and the sacrifices of our servicemembers, it’s paramount that we recognize the many women who have defended our nation in uniform,” said Rep. Levin. “Far too often, women do not receive the recognition they deserve for their service and sacrifice, but we have an opportunity to help change that by renaming the San Diego VA Medical Center after a distinguished local female veteran. I am very proud that our panel compiled such a detailed report on notable women veterans with ties to the region who are worthy of this recognition, and I would like to extend my thanks to chair Karin Brennan and each member of the panel who volunteered their time in the production of this report. Thanks to their work, I’m proud to introduce legislation to rename the San Diego VA Medical Center after Army CPT Jennifer M. Moreno and work toward renaming a facility after Navy CAPT Kathleen M. Bruyere.”

“It was my honor to lead this effort.  Our task was difficult in that there are many women veterans who have served our country with distinction. Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight both CPT Moreno and CAPT Bruyere for the inspirational lives they led and for the legacy of their selfless service to our nation,” said panel leader and Army Veteran Karin Brennan.

“This is such an honor. Against all odds, Jenny built a really good life for herself. The impact she continues to have on people has been overwhelming to see. As kind and generous as she was, she was also resilient, strong and a badass! Thank you to everyone involved in this project. It will always be difficult to remember that Jenny’s life was cut short but there is comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on forever,” said Yaritza Cordova, sister of U.S. Army CPT Jennifer M. Moreno.

“Kathleen Bruyere's life was one of service, from a very young age literally up to the days before her passing. Her career in the United States Navy was dedicated to the advancement of all sailors, but her commitment to creating equal opportunities for women in the armed forces is what she was most proud of. She would be humbled by this honor, as is her family, and thank Congressman Levin for bringing to the forefront, the proper attention to women serving our great country,” said TJ Bruyere, stepson of U.S. Navy CAPT Kathleen M. Bruyere.

“Oceanside Memorial VFW Post 10577 and Tri-Cities DAV Chapter 95 lend our endorsement of naming the VA facility after a worthy veteran. We appreciate the work the committee has done to research with due diligence the various extraordinary candidates whose name will be worthy of our VA facility. We also appreciate the committee that is made up of several of our VFW and DAV members and we trust their professional judgement in deciding whose name will be synonymous with our VA facility,” said Andy Ortega, US Navy Corpsman (FMF) and Commander of the Oceanside Memorial VFW Post 10577 and Tri-Cities DAV Chapter 95.

In September 2020, the VA released the 2020 Report of its Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. The Advisory Committee made seven recommendations to VA, one of which is the inclusionary branding of VA facilities. This item recommended that VA “form a working group to recommend names for VA undedicated facilities to honor women veterans” and “support legislation that promotes the renaming of VA facilities to honor women who have made significant contributions to military service, to recognize the impact of women who serve, and to promote inclusiveness and cultural transformation.”

In its response, VA stated, “VA agrees with the recommendation in concept but cannot implement until there is direct Congressional action on this issue. Congress has the authority to name Federal property after an individual, including the renaming of VA facilities.” With that understanding, Rep. Levin is introducing legislation to name the San Diego VA Medical Center after U.S. Army CPT Jennifer M. Moreno and support the designation of a component of the San Diego VAMC after U.S. Navy CAPT Kathleen M. Bruyere. The bill is cosponsored by the entire San Diego Congressional Delegation and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Julia Brownley (D-CA). Text of the legislation is available here.