Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, introduced legislation Tuesday to rename the San Diego Veterans Affairs Medical Center after Army Capt. Jennifer Moreno, a decorated combat veteran from San Diego killed in action during a deployment to Afghanistan in October 2013.
“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,” Levin said. “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.”
Levin cited a report released Tuesday by a panel of local servicemembers, veterans and other community leaders which also recommends that a facility within the VA Medical Center in San Diego be named after 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, according to Levin’s office.
The panel was led by Army veteran and Carlsbad resident Karin Brennan.
“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,” Brennan said. “Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight both Capt. Moreno and Capt. Bruyere for the inspirational lives they led and for the legacy of their selfless service to our nation.”
Moreno’s sister thanked the panel and San Diego’s congressional contingent.
“Against all odds, Jenny built a really good life for herself. The impact she continues to have on people has been overwhelming to see,” Yaritza Cordova said in a statement released by Levin’s office.
“As kind and generous as she was, she was also resilient, strong and a badass,” her sibling said. “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.”
Levin’s bill addresses only the Moreno naming recommendation. The lawmaker said he plans to “work toward” renaming a facility after Bruyere, as well.
TJ Bruyere, Kathleen Bruyere’s stepson, said her 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,” he said. “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.”
In September 2020, the VA released the 2020 Report of its Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. The committee made seven recommendations to the agency, one of which is the inclusionary branding of VA facilities.
In its response, the VA said it agreed with the recommendations, but needed direct congressional action as Congress has the authority to name federal property after an individual, including the renaming of VA facilities.