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Section of San Diego VA named after Navy captain who helped end ban on women on warships

Andrew Dyer
The Kathleen M. Bruyere Health Pavilion at the Jennifer Moreno Veterans Affairs Medical Center was unveiled in a ceremony, May 19, 2023.

A wing at the Jennifer Moreno Veterans Affairs Medical Center was named Friday for a trailblazing Navy captain who helped open doors, hatches and scuttles for women to serve on warships.

Navy Capt. Kathy Bruyere was part of the landmark civil rights lawsuit in the 1970s that overturned a law barring women from serving on combat ships.

The change significantly expanded the roles available to women in the Navy and enabled many to rise in their ranks. Service at sea is an important career milestone for Navy officers and by not allowing women the service guaranteed many could not advance to senior positions.


Retired Rear Adm. Sandy Adams said she owes her career to Bruyere and the other servicewomen who took part in the lawsuit.

"I never would have been able to serve on a ship, any type of ship, at the time," Adams said. "Women who were flying at the time could not even land on a ship. It was crazy."

Bruyere, who died in San Diego in 2020, is one of two local servicewomen memorialized at the medical center.

In December, the facility was named for Army Capt. Jennifer Moreno, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2013.