Captain Joan Brouillette


Joan Brouillette is a retired Captain in the Navy.  She served in Vietnam in 1967 to 1968 and continued to serve her country for 35 more years, which is how she became a Captain.  Joan continued to travel even after she retired from the military and became a full time Nurse for the military after receiving a two year degree from the University of Virginia.  Joan was a nurse who travelled wherever she could go–Europe, San Diego, and San Antonio, wherever the military needed her.  Joan does not have any children, but instead came back because her family told her “you’ve been gone for 60 years.  Come back”.  She is currently residing at Nichols Village.

Joan joined the Navy because she and her four friends, all Ipswich natives, wanted to “get out of Boston”, so with their nursing degrees, at the time employed at Lynn Hospital, they applied.  Joan was the only one who stayed in longer than the requirement because she is passionate about helping people recover, after all Joan believes “Nurses straighten everything out”.  

Joan was picked to go with 17 others overseas out of 1,000 volunteers.  In Joan’s experience preparing for going overseas, she was required to take a one week class about what is happening over in Vietnam and she was told “bring everything you need because you’re not gonna get it when you’re over there”.  

Joan claims that her family’s roles in the military affected her decision to enlist.  Joan’s older brother was in the Navy,  submarine unit, for five years and her younger brother was in the army for two years.  Her father could not enlist because he had flat feet, but instead he was in charge of shutting off lights, block houses and cars because there were rumors of submarine invaders coming towards Ipswich.

The war has not impacted Joan’s stance on gun laws.  She is “more for than against” the legalization.  In the recent incident in Texas, the shooter was kicked out of the Air Force before opening fire on a church.  She believes “the Air Force needs to speak up about  what he did and why he was kicked out”.

In the war, Joan’s position was the operating room supervisor.  The most impactful thing about the war she experienced was the number of patients, 350,000 per month, in the operating room.  Some Vietnamese, American, and some enemies.  Joan believes nurses really help people fight for their lives.  

“Vietnam really gets (to) me,” said an emotional Brouillette.  Brouillette said, “it makes me sad especially when you see children… and the amount of pain and suffering”.  After seeing her upset expressions, I asked, “Are you happy you joined?” and she said, “Oh, yes, absolutely!” with a smile.