Interview with Laura J. Browne, US Army
Name: Laura J. Browne
Military Branch & Rank: US Army, Major
Dates of Service: 2008 – 2014 (Active Duty); 2014 – present (as of date of interview) (Reserves)
Date of Interview: October 7, 2019
Interviewer: Michael D. Brown
Audio Producer: Laura Bang
Length of Interview: 64 minutes
Transcribed by: Nicholas Coscarelli
Edited and annotated by: Meg Piorko
MICHAEL BROWN (INTRO): Thank you for joining us today. My name is Michael Brown, and we are here today at Villanova University recording another installment of the Voices of Villanova’s Veterans.
BROWN: Welcome back to another installment of the Voices of Villanova’s Veterans. My name is Mike Brown, and we are here at Villanova University in the Rare Book Room, and today I am joined by Laura Browne, no relation. Her last name ends with “E.” So, she’s the British Browne, if you will, and she is an Army veteran. So, welcome, and thanks for joining us today, Laura.
LAURA BROWNE: Yeah, thanks for having me, Mike.
BROWN: So, I want to get started with, you know, let’s go back in time. When and where were you born?
BROWNE: I was born literally in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson, and I lived in South Brunswick for the first four years of my life. So, it’s Central New Jersey, and we moved to Monroe Township when I was four.
BROWN: And are you an only child? Are you one of 20 children? Like, what’s the?
BROWNE: I’m in the middle, one middle of five. So, two older brothers, younger brother, younger sister.
BROWN: Okay, so there’s two girls and three boys?
BROWN: And what was childhood like?
BROWNE: We were busy. We were the family that were in a lot of sports, a lot of activities. I don’t know how my parents did it, truthfully, but I think being in the middle, I was definitely – I just kind of followed the row of ducklings almost. We just did a lot of sports, a lot of activities. I would say, you know, I never moved. So, it was very stable in that way. I’ve always lived in Central New Jersey from what I remember in Monroe Township, but you know. I loved being part of a big family. It was, you know, that’s all I know, and I think it’s fun. And there’s always action. There was always people home.
BROWN: Sure. What were your interests growing up? What were you, like, dead set on playing a certain sport? Were you academically, you know, going towards something? What were your interests and passions as a young adult and child?
BROWNE: Yeah, definitely more sports. I played soccer, basketball, and softball. Soccer was my sport that I would say I was the best at, and that I liked the most. But I like playing everything. I mean, I played hockey with my brothers. Tennis with my dad. Didn’t matter. As far as school, I kind of liked everything. I would say, if people would ask, what’s my favorite subject, I’d say I like everything, whatever class I’m in that moment, I would enjoy it.
BROWNE: So yeah, but even though sports were a family’s main thing, we definitely, I would say prioritized family time. So, relatives lived in the area. So, if we’re not playing sports, we’re like hanging out with cousins and those type of things too.
BROWNE: So, I think just being around family, having local family, that was a big deal.
BROWN: Okay. Did you play sports in high school?
BROWNE: Yep. Yeah.
BROWN: For your high school teams and everything?
BROWNE: Yeah. We played all three sports soccer in the fall in New Jersey, and then basketball, winter, softball in the spring. I was a unique version of athlete and band nerd. So, I also was a – I started freshman year as a clarinet player. They said they needed low brass. I said, “I’m in.” Then I learned baritone and trombone. So, I did marching band in the fall as well as soccer, and that included competitions. So, you’d be going from one uniform to the next, but then, you know, band throughout the year.
BROWNE: Yeah. So, yeah, mixed up those things, but definitely high school. I was in a lot of different activities.
BROWN: Yeah. And you were very busy, it sounds like.
BROWN: And now it’s time for college, right? That’s the natural progression. Did you follow your sibling’s lead and go anywhere specific, or did you say I’m going to like, “I’ve got to go to Rutgers,” or whatever?
BROWNE: I didn’t know I would follow my brother’s lead, but that’s what happened. So, my older brother, Tim, did Army ROTC at University of Scranton. I didn’t know what ROTC was until he did it. And I almost have to back up and say how I even thought about nursing and guided where I looked at for schools.
BROWNE: Senior year, I took an anatomy and physiology class and realized I knew nothing about my heart and nothing about my body until that class. I’m like, wow, it just opened up my eyes. So, I want to do something in healthcare. And then that’s when my parents talked about “Laura, you know, there is ROTC and nursing as a path.” And then that was it. We looked at schools that had ROTC programs that I could play soccer at in college. And we did look at Catholic schools. So, I ended up narrowing down between University of Scranton, where my brother went, and Catholic U in D.C. And the overnight with the soccer teams sealed the deal; I went to Scranton. It was just, it was a very welcoming community. I love the soccer team. I liked everything about it. Plus, my brother went there. It was a known place.
BROWN: Sure. So, when you got to Scranton, you’re thinking ROTC, were you guaranteed a scholarship immediately? Did you have to apply for it? How does that process work?
BROWNE: Yeah, I applied for it out of high school. So, it can be either. Since I feel like I had an inside knowledge about it, because of my mom already went through the process with helping my brother out, my brother getting a scholarship out of high school. So, I applied out of high school as a senior. And I got a four-year Army ROTC scholarship, nursing specific. So, a lot of programs have what would be the regular ROTC scholarships. And then they have some nursing specific ones as well. So, I got a nursing specific scholarship. I knew, you know, what at least what would be paid for going to school. And what’s unique about getting one out of high school is that the school sometimes will offer for room and board. So, I got free room and board from Scranton. And then my tuition was paid for by Army ROTC command. So, it was going to a very, you know, private Catholic schools, as we know, have a cost. And I paid nothing to go to school for four years.
BROWN: Yeah, so that’s fantastic for you and your family.
BROWN: Right. And what made you think about the Army as opposed to other branches?
BROWNE: I never thought about other branches. For some reason, I think growing up, like we played manhunt with my uncle’s old Army uniforms. We would … We have relatives in the Army and Navy, but there’s something about Navy that I just equated with ships and water. And I wasn’t interested. I didn’t think about the Air Force ever. And I think the Army, there’s just more programs; we’re a bigger service. So it was, it was never really a decision. I just looked for Army ROTC programs. I think that’s how simple it was for me.
BROWN: And your brother did it already. So, what was he doing? He was also Army.
BROWN: And what was his – at Scranton? And is he still in the military?
BROWNE: He’s still in. Yep. My older brother, Tim. He’s a major as well. He’s right now at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. He lives in Huntsville. And he’s still in. So, you know, he led the way in a certain way because of the five of us, three of us went Army ROTC. And you asked the question about following anyone to a school, four of us ended up going to Scranton. One went to King’s College, which is 25 minutes away in Wilkes-Barre. So, we all went to Northeastern Pennsylvania for school. And three of us did Army ROTC. My younger brother is also active duty right now for Campbell.
BROWN: Wow. So, it’s like, that to me, that brings out a tradition. You know, it’s a family. You’re going to these outstanding institutions. You’re joining the Army through an Army ROTC scholarship. So, that’s fantastic. And what was your experience like at Scranton? Was it, you know, you’re playing soccer and your ROTC? Talk about the challenges of doing both being a student athlete and a cadet.
BROWNE: Yeah. It was a lot. I had to be very organized with my time. Many days I’d be waking up earlier than my roommates. I’d be in an Army uniform. Then I’d go to class and I’m in regular clothes. Then I would go prep for something with clinical being in scrubs. Then I would go to my soccer practice, different outfit. Or a game, a uniform. So, it would be one thing to the next. But I think because that was my high school normal. It wasn’t that abnormal for me. I can’t say enough about how important it is for a nursing program to be okay with ROTC nurse cadets. And then for the ROTC cadre to be okay with nursing students. And then even my coaches for soccer to support me doing other things because really, in life, something’s got to give, or people have to support you to do it. Because I’d have to miss certain things for other things or get priority to do classes at a certain time. Or miss a field training exercise because they let me prioritize important games that had to happen for it to work in that skirt. And they definitely worked with me to do all those things. I never missed things that were the most important of that given thing. I didn’t want to act like I had special treatment or would miss just things that were very important. But when I communicated well in advance, they really worked me well.
BROWN: Sure. Well that’s nice. It makes you feel like you’re supported. And if you can trust them, you can ask questions, etc. So that’s nice. I think that sets the tone for potentially your leadership moving forward. It shows that you can be supportive and still be a leader. So, you’re getting ready to get out of Scranton. You’re becoming a nurse. So, what’s the next process look like for people who have never gone through an ROTC world? What does that look like for joining, graduating, getting your commission, and then joining the military. Joining the army in your case?
BROWNE: Yeah, the whole ROTC program is a building block. So, they call it military science one, two, three, four and it correlates with your grade. Some people actually join later and they’ll come in right at year three and they get them up to speed. But you start as a freshman. It’s building on, like certain lower level tactics and techniques, and understanding the military. And you move towards functioning as a platoon leader in the army. So, they don’t focus on nursing, or being a nurse in the army in ROTC.
BROWNE: You’re focused on the general. How are you going to lead soldiers out in the army as an officer? And I like that they did that for everyone the same. So, they didn’t necessarily say nurses learned something separate. Even though our reality of our experiences may be very different than let’s say what my brother’s experienced as a new second lieutenant. But your goal is to commission as a second lieutenant and that’s what they’re preparing you for. So, it’s saying leadership, skills, understanding the army, understanding certain military science things by doctrine. And you do classroom and then you do lab, which would be out in, you know, in a park somewhere locally. And then you do field training exercises meeting with other schools, and you’d meet as a brigade. So, it gets you to really know your local battalion or group at your school. And then you actually meet people from other schools because area ROTCs get together and it makes training more realistic because you train with people you don’t know.
BROWNE: And that’s all to prepare you to be a second lieutenant. And along the way, they will integrate you with opportunities. I feel like I’m like recruiting for ROTC now –
BROWNE: But I’m so passionate about it because for someone like me to be totally independent financially, get all of this extra training as a nurse cadet, they give you the opportunity to go to nurse summer training program. So, I went to Walter Reed for two weeks and served with a nurse out in, you know, the real world. I talked to Villanova students here that program is still in place, nursing cadets, where they can go to medical centers around the country or Germany or Hawaii. I was able to go to Airborne school and college. So, they’ll get you to real Army schools or just training things, whether short summer, 10 days, summer, or a few weeks. Also, cadet troop leading things so they’ll get non-nursing cadets to go with platoon leaders or company commanders to see. So, they train you, but then they also try and get you out into the real Army in advance of graduating to see some, get some experience.
BROWNE: And it’s really cool that’s all paid for, you know, you’re all covered as a cadet. You just have to do up your time in the summer.
BROWN: Right. You just have to say volunteer to do it. Right. And so, when you look back at it, you think, was it something you really enjoyed that you’d do it again 100 times out of 100 times?
BROWNE: Oh, yeah. There are times I’ve said to my parents, I was like, they don’t even have to pay me as much in a certain way. Like, it’s almost, it’s everyone’s profession, you get paid to do it. But I think a lot of people go into it unrelated to that, unrelated to doing it for other reasons. I know for me, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve called it like, it’s more my identity now than it is a job. It’s kind of like part of my life, my family’s life.
BROWNE: At this point. It started in college, though, I think, enjoying it. I like field stuff. I don’t mind getting dirty. I like being outside. You have to be certain adventure, I think, to join the military. And, you know, right away, I saw my brother did, my older brother. And I said, I could see myself doing that. And then I was right. It was good. It was the right fit.
BROWN: Good. And so, now you’re about to get your commission. You’re a first lieutenant in the United States Army. And are you going reserves? Are you going active duty? What is, you know, how does that get picked? Do you pick that? Does the Army pick that? Talk about that process.
BROWNE: I know the process changes over time, depending on the needs of the Army. So, when I graduated in 2008, most nurses and even most non-nurse cadets were going active duty. That’s what the need was at the time. So, it was rare to see someone commission right into the National Guard or reserves. But it does happen, and it would go off of someone’s preference sometimes and sometimes needs of the Army. But usually within the beginning of your senior year, you put in what would be your wish list or your list of where you want to be stationed, what branch you want, and what component active-duty guard reserve. So, part of it is your preference. I would never say it’s your choice. The Army ultimately puts out lists of what branch – besides if you’re a nursing specific scholarship person, it’s straightforward. But people that are criminal justice major, they want infantry, they may not get it, or they may want something non-combat arms, they may get infantry, or just for example. So that’s usually a big moment in the MS4, or senior year time, to find all of that out. Where you’re going to live, could be anywhere in the world at a base. What branch, that’s a big deal that kind of sets the path for your career, and then component. But right now, for what I hear with Villanova cadets, I just met with some nursing cadets, it’s not guaranteed active duty. It’s actually the opposite. They know about how many slots they need for this particular time frame of let’s say nurses, and then they’re going to hear if they’re active duty or not.
BROWNE: Again, that sets the tone for your career. Because if you don’t get active duty, you’re looking for a job. If you get active duty, that’s your job.
BROWN: Yeah, right.
BROWNE: It’s really easy to never have to do a resume when you’re after duty. You do CBs and those things, but you don’t have to actually apply for a job in a traditional way.
BROWN: Right. Do you remember when you were picking, obviously you knew you were going to be a nurse, but when you picked your location, what was your wish list?
BROWNE: Yeah. I put Germany first, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and I don’t remember anything else. I think I might have put Hawaii second, and I think I put Walter Reed third, because I was familiar with it, and I thought, if I’m going to go to the medical center, let me go to the biggest and potentially really great learning experience right away. But I put Germany not even really looking at the map, restudying it, and getting acquainted with where I would go, because I just didn’t think it would happen. And then I got Germany as my first duty station.
BROWN: So, you’re getting ready to do that, and you’re active duty, what unit was your first assignment?
BROWNE: It was the Alpha Company of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
BROWN: And you’re there for what, two years?
BROWNE: Three years.
BROWN: Three years. What was your impression of being in a foreign country on an Army base initially when you first got there?
BROWNE: When I first got there, it didn’t initially feel like I was in another country, because you’re pretty much in processing on base, and I was with some friends I met an officer basic course, because you go to that first, usually go to an officer basic, and then you head to your first duty station. Mine was in San Antonio. So, you met people in San Antonio, about 12 of us all went out to Germany together. So, initially it was your eyes are wide, just like can’t wait to go try different food and do different experiences, but you have to in process just like any normal post. So, it’s the mix of, I think some people ended up in the hotels on post, but if they didn’t have room, you got to be in a hotel right on the local economy. I think those people, we were all jealous of them. I was on post. So, more you’re focusing on what do I need to do in process to be a part of this unit now? And that is very important by your sponsor. And the many units do have a very good sponsorship program. Germany definitely did. They know people are coming to a new country. I was a 22-year-old going to Germany by myself. I was a single service member, and your sponsor was the one to say, “Hey, this is how you look for your house. This is how you in process space. This is exactly what you need to know. Don’t worry about it. I got you.” And I had a very kind sponsor, and I still keep in touch.
BROWN: That’s great. When did you feel like you were finally – was there a moment that you’re like, “I am in a foreign country?” Talk to me about it when you started to immerse yourself in the German culture, if you did that at all.
BROWNE: Yeah. I know even talking to my landlord sometimes. I was just like, she spoke English very well, but we still would have some communication gap issues that just, you know, we worked through it. I think that was initially of an issue in your house, and like go to my next door neighbor to knock on their door and I’m like, “Okay, how’s this going to go?” I think each time I would always be like, “I definitely am in Germany now,” but we didn’t start. We didn’t waste time to start traveling. I think the first weekend there, I was in Black Forest in Germany, and the further you get away from base, the more people are not as used to having so many Americans around base. And that’s when it feels more like you’re in another country.
BROWNE: If you really stay around base, if you eat at restaurants only around base, they have an English menu, a German menu. Go further, it’ll only be that German menu. And that felt better when you went to other countries or just outside of that radius around any American base that have been there for 60 plus years.
BROWNE: You feel it. And asking for directions would be the moments where I’m just like, I never took a language besides Spanish in high school.
BROWN: German’s very different.
BROWNE: German’s different, yes.
BROWN: So, then the other side of that, talk to me about when you first felt like you were in the real Army, as opposed to being, you know, you’re a cadet, you’re on a college campus, you’re, you know, an officer basic, you know. When were you first like, you know, “I am an officer in the United States Army.”
BROWNE: Yeah, I think it was came pretty quickly at Landstuhl because all your patients are active-duty or their family member. Every single day, you have air vacs coming in. So, people would be air evacuated from some theater coming into our hospital. So, even if I was still on orientation or they had a 78-month residency program where you weren’t totally responsible having your inpatient load, it was a way to get you used to being a new nurse. You’re still seeing it every single day, you know, just like people with traumatic injuries are coming every day. So, that was right from the start.
BROWN: And what year is this?
BROWN: So, it’s like right after the surge, basically, 2007. So, what sort of injuries are you seeing on a day-to-day basis?
BROWNE: Yeah, it would be, if it was airbag people coming in, we’d always say “status posts” because sometimes it would be like 10 different injuries, but it would be status posts. Let’s say a vehicle roll over or a gunshot wound or a blast injury. So, for me, I worked in the med surge ward. So, it wouldn’t be people that were severe enough to go right to the intensive care unit. They could have pretty complex injuries, but they still were stable enough to be on a med surge ward. And, you know, a lot of general surgery-type things like just wound care, blast injury, the blast shrapnel pieces could be all over like peppering to the face. Big or small shrapnel pieces anywhere in the body, orthopedic things all the time, fractures, soft tissue injuries. Some people can get a blast injury and really not have that much happen to them. It just misses all your bones, misses big nerves, misses big arteries. And you’re actually okay. So, it’s like some people are returned to duty quickly after certain injuries. And someone else, it could be the same status posts, something, and then their gunshot wound run right through artery bone right in the pelvic region. I mean, it just depends on all of that. So, any type of, you know, all those we’d see, but we’d see people from our Afghanistan that fractured ankle, but they were sliding into home plate playing softball. So, like you can have people air vac back for all reasons.
BROWNE: And it still can be actually be like a pretty severe injury, but, you know, wounded, ill, or injured, all reasons people come to launch dual besides anyone local, so it could be all the regular post-op surgeries of a local person that can get a, you know, issue with their gallbladder and gallbladder comes out, we’d get them at the war too.
BROWN: Sure, sure. And when you’re there, are you assuming that you’re going to eventually go to theater? Are you under the understanding that you’re just going to be there for a while? Like, what does, you know, what’s that look like and feel like from your point of view at that point?
BROWNE: Yeah, when I came, I knew that there was still a lot of nurse deployments going on. So, at least from the nursing perspective, I knew that I would probably get a chance to go if I wanted to pursue it. But I also knew that if I didn’t want to like, jump up and down and say, I wanted to play that, I might not. I kind of felt like it can go either way, based on who was leaving Germany at the time.
BROWNE: And I think sometimes the army, like, we’ll have to decide where they’re deploying people from. And also, how they fill other units. So, I knew I wasn’t organic to a unit like a combat support hospital that that whole hospital would deploy. I was stationed at Germany at a different type of hospital, like, you know, a freestanding area. More like a brick-and-mortar building type of unit. We have names for all these units. But so, I knew that, you know, obviously, launch show as a hospital wouldn’t deploy. So, sometimes you have to pursue getting attached to a unit. So, I told my chief nurse from the start, “Hey, I would be interested in deploying.” I told my head nurse, which happened to be Air Force, “Hey, Lieutenant Colonel Dunson, I’d, I’d want to deploy my raining scheme.” I told them. So, I think I just was verbal so that they would know. I have some other peers that they wanted to pursue going to the intensive care unit course or the labor delivery course, or certain courses that were actually really important to get to as soon as you can. And I don’t think they wanted to deploy at that timing because they’d rather go to the course first. So, you really had an environment where it was either/or. Like it didn’t, it wasn’t where they were anyone going to launch show would definitely be deploying.
BROWNE: And also, people did deploy from launches. So, there’s, I think, a good mix at that timeframe of you could pursue it or you can try and pursue something else knowing that you may get orders to deploy, but it didn’t mean it was going to happen.
BROWN: And so, from the start, you’re saying, “I want to deploy,” and what’s the reasoning? Why are you eager to deploy?
BROWNE: I think for me as a nurse, I mean, I joined the Army Nurse Corps for the reason of taking care of soldiers and that would mean anywhere. So, part of it was the service aspect of it, the adventure of it. It was, you just don’t know in time, five years from then if like nothing’s going on in the world in that type of way, you just don’t know how environments are going to change. So, I figured right now, while things are going on in Iraq and Afghanistan and some other countries, I would try to see what units need, you know, people to fill them. It’s called it’s usually called a PROFIS nurse, professional filler. So, I knew that at that time there were needs throughout the Army.
BROWN: And did the Army cave to your commands?
BROWNE: Yeah, definitely wasn’t my command. [laughs] But it was where, when the 31st cache must have, you know, whatever the need was, there were a few nurses that they were taking from all different areas. And I know my chief nurse at the time, I think three of us went from Germany at the time I went. But then other nurses that were from my hospital went and followed up with the unit after us. So, it seemed like there were nurses, I didn’t even realize that were in Afghanistan, that were on my unit. And then they came back while I left. So, I met them like a year later when I came.
BROWNE: I didn’t go for a full year, but I met them later. So, it just shows, Germany’s always deploying nurses. And I didn’t even realize what nurses obviously would have been deployed because I hadn’t met them yet. And they were on my ward. I thought they were new. Nope, they were there prior to me even deploying. And I met them when I got back. So, it’s just where I just think in the Army, you have to be verbal with what your own goals are. And then some people will say, “Oh, I didn’t get a chance to do this,” or “I didn’t go on this type of thing,” but they never even verbalize what they wanted to do. Or maybe they didn’t know what they wanted to do, or different things like that.
BROWN: So where are you deploying? What’s the preparation for deployment look and feel like? And then where are you going?
BROWNE: Yeah, so for that, initially we got some type of like temporary order about when we’d go. And I learned very quickly that things change. So, you have to kind of plan out your life timeline on going places, but then that could always change. So, I know we started to learn about the country, like going to Afghanistan. We started to do some cultural competence, like the unit from Texas, which is the 31st cash at Fort Bliss, sent us a packet of information to basically study and start to learn about. But it really was the, the real training happened in Fort Benning at a CONUS replacement center, where they basically train people that are – they don’t just deploy with their unit as a unit. They’re usually like less people at a time, going to one place, getting training like weapons, call, more cultural things. Just making sure all of the like legal things are done. What I would call the stations to deploy. Those all happened usually at a CRC, or CONUS replacement center. So, more of the pre-deployment stuff happened right before I actually went. So, I went from Germany to Benning. We happened to go back to Europe and then went. So, that whole place.
BROWN: Yeah. So, Benning went well.
BROWN: Your orders are for deployment. Where are you going? Are you going to Iraq? Are you going to Afghanistan? And then what part of the country are you going to?
BROWNE: Yeah, I went to Afghanistan, and it was Helmand province, and called Camp Dwyer. And that was, our unit was split over multiple sites, but that’s where the main cache was. So, that’s where we went as our small group from the CRC to meet up with the cache that was already there. And some people will know Afghanistan as beautiful mountains and certain beautiful parts. And we were more in desert. Everything was same color, all desert, flat. That’s what our environment was.
BROWN: And what time of year was this?
BROWNE: Yeah, June 2010.
BROWN: June 2010. And what units are you supporting while you’re there? Are you there with the 82nd Airborne? Are there with 10 mountain division? Like who are some of the bigger units around you?
BROWNE: We actually were supporting a unit of Marines that were in Marja. So, for U.S. patients that came to us, that was the main U.S., you know, category or group of patients that we saw for U.S. We did see some like NATO, other country soldiers, but at that timeframe, they were in Marja. So, I think it was where there was Army, Marine. It just changes over time who’s in a certain area.
BROWN: Sure. And during that time, what’s the climate like? It’s June 2010. Is it hot? Is it winter?
BROWNE: Yeah, it’s hot. It was usually over 100.
BROWN: Uh huh.
BROWNE: And I guess more depends on how humid a place is than just temperature. It wasn’t horribly hot. It was hot. I mean, believe me, we did have temper tents for the … support hospital and the tents we slept in. So, they did have air conditioning you can turn on. But as you can imagine, that’s not always reliable. I could break. I remember we shade-tented the whole host, the whole cash. They did a shade tent over every component of it, which that’s a large area that you’re covering because, you know, just generators, not able to keep up with our demands of air conditioning.
BROWN: Uh huh.
BROWNE: So, it was definitely hot, but –
BROWN: Not terrible.
BROWNE: We worked out outside. It wasn’t like it was –
BROWN: Yeah, yeah. And what’s your typical meals like? Are you eating, you know, steak and eggs every day? Are you eating MREs for every meal.
BROWNE: Yeah. There were probably five dining facilities on the base that you could walk to.
BROWNE: And we even knew what things were, what night, and you kind of get down. You kind of get to know what, which one you want to choose to go to. It was usually the same thing every day, except Friday was a surf and turf. I think a lot of bases do that where they kind of give, especially the fighting people, a morale booster. So, it was literally like steak and like lobster or crab legs or something. Steak and crab legs. But I can’t complain one bit because I did not have MREs for six months. I didn’t have to cook one thing myself for six months. So, there’s a certain simplicity of go get my omelet flipped. There was a group of, I believe they were all from Nepal, most of our dining facility workers. So, you kind of even got to know the same people because they all like working the same thing. And they almost came for months at a time as a job to work on base. And then they would go home and rotate in. So, we had usually contractors or people that would be running the dining facilities, but it was, I think it was wonderful. I even did a paleo challenge during my six months for three months where, although I had every type of food at my fingertips, I was only sticking to like meat and vegetables.
BROWNE: And I don’t know why I did that to myself, but we had some fun with kind of like a working out-lose some weight before we get home-type of challenge. So, the dining facility actually made it easy because a lot of options.
BROWN: Sure. And what is your actual job? What are you doing for those six months? Are you running a hospital of sorts? Like what does that look like and feel like on a day-to-day?
BROWNE: Yeah, it was the 31st Combat Support Hospital. Those hospitals, most of the similar configuration. You can actually make them look a different way almost like picture Lego blocks or how you would configure a path of emergency department to ORs, usually two intensive care units, one or two. We had one intermediate care word would be the med surge ward. That’s what I was on. And other departments are things like you’d have a specialty clinic or something with physical therapy. So, this is a fully functioning hospital. You could picture M*A*S*H on TV with the green tents and very old school-looking beds. We had that. We also had electronic beds that you would see in a modern-day hospital. So, we happen to have two ICWs, the intermediate care ward. One was what we called our American and NATO ward. And then one, we had an entire local word. And that would mean local Afghanistan patients, Afghan army, Afghan police, local citizens that were not any military component. We had EPWs at time and … prisoner of war. And we had separate wards, not for a reason of anything that was beyond, it’s a challenge with having people of so many different components in one hospital. So, that was a way to have everyone accountable. And we did our wards that way.
BROWN: And what did you rank at this point?
BROWNE: I went as a first lieutenant.
BROWNE: And that was my rank the whole time, I believe. Because you commissioned as a second lieutenant and go to first lieutenant and then captain.
BROWNE: So yeah, it was the first lieutenant the whole time.
BROWN: Okay. And what is it? Are you exceedingly busy the entire six months you’re there? Or is it like, are you there just training and like learning in this case stuff happens? Like what is the amount of, you know, patients that you’re seeing on a typical weekly or daily or monthly basis?
BROWNE: Yeah, in the intermediate care ward, our Afghanistan ward, and we didn’t call it that. We just called it “ICW-1” or “ICW-2.” ICW-2 was busy from the moment I got there to the moment I left. So, any given day, let’s say if there was 15 of us on that ward, you have a day shift, you have a night shift, you have a charge nurse and some RNs, which would be the officers and LPNs, which would usually be our NCOs or enlisted and medics. We would be nonstop with care on our Afghan ICW-2 ward. It was we just always have 20 beds there, we always had 20 people and every single Afghanistan patient would come with an escort. So, that would mean you have more than 20 people in the ward. And that means feeding everybody, for the patients themselves, obviously, the nursing care for their escort. Feeding, going to the bathroom, a lot of different tasks to take care of. So, that was busy all the time. We usually, I think we worked our first 10 days straight and then we got a schedule going where it was three on, one off, three on, one off, three on, one off for the rest of the six months, which that would be working more than a regular U.S. hospital as far as usually you would do three days in a week as a normal shift. And somehow you get towards your 40 hours a week with the 12 hour shifts usually, it works out how shifts sometimes alternate within the 7 days. But for us, it was that was taxing. Like even though it’s one day off, that’d be like your one day to just do nothing. And that wouldn’t actually mean you do nothing. Because if there are any needs of the hospital, it’s like everyone in all hands-on deck. So, your day off would usually be your day off. Sometimes it wouldn’t. Or sometimes
you just sense you should go in and help. But as far as Marines and NATO, that would be busy and then not busy at all, which is a good thing. I mean, we would want that same with our ICW too. But it would just depend on the day or the week. You can have – that was a 10 bed ICW-1. And there were times where we had eight to 10 patients in it. I can’t say specifics. I don’t remember specifics of how frequent it would be full to empty. But I know we were way busier in our ICW-2. For the hospital itself, it would be similar because we’re very efficient as an Army to air vac people from Afghanistan to Germany. So, the idea of a cache is not to hold people.
BROWNE: You’re admitting them to do some treatment, return to duty, or “Wow, this person needs to be air vac-ed out now.” The moment they come in, you’re already doing the paperwork. It’s an Air Force document, a patient movement record to get the person set up to fly out. So, that’s why, especially with the U.S. side, it’s intentional. It’s not meant to have people there. With Afghanistan, it would be a lot more complex with discharging patients. And I think that’s also it makes sense that our level of care would have probably been better in many ways to where they’d be going. So, we would keep them longer to make sure things are good with whatever care we were giving and then organize for discharge. So, there are reasons for having a busier ward. But it’s where, you know, if a Marine is injured and is unconscious and on a ventilator, they’re not staying in the ICU long. I mean, they’re going to be stabilized, but then they’re going to be air vac-ed to Germany.
BROWN: Sure. Talk to me about some of your best moments in Afghanistan, if you can remember any.
BROWNE: We’ll just start off like week two, I turned 24 and I’m born on the 24th. So, it’s my golden birthday. So, this is not in a in a professional nursing way, but this is just a memory of like, I was doing wound care. And all of a sudden, everyone came in to sing happy birthday. And they like got the guys at the dining facility to make a cake. And they sing to me. So, here I’m two weeks into my deployment and like we’re singing happy birthday. And it was neat that golden year of the 24th year, I’m sitting in Afghanistan. I think I’m like my gloves on with … in my hand. And I was like, in the field, taking pictures. And you have to like not to take it to the patient. It’s like, “Woah, guys, let me finish my nursing care. Let’s sing later.” That was just a neat moment. And that kind of kicked off my birthday because I’m born in June. But I think a moment for me of like, “Wow, what people do” is if you’re ever part of a walking blood bank, when a base they could put out base wide, “Hey, we need blood.” And our cache did that a couple times in ours, in at least the six months I was there. To be a part of that is like, it just shows what people do for other people. And they don’t announce like, “This is for an American soldier or Marine or an Afghan person.” It’s kind of like cache needs blood. And you have people just flooding in. And it’s amazing to see that. I remember sitting there being like, “These are one of the reasons you joined,” like you can’t just do that in other places where you just, people know there’s traumas coming in. The lab meticulously keeps track of how much blood they have because that’s a big deal with, you know, needs of a cache with trauma. And being a part of that like one time giving blood and one time just jumping in and helping, not meaning being the full… because usually lab does just things so, so specific. But that was a moment I remember specifically being a part of that type of day. And you just hope whatever’s going on – you might not even know all the details of the traumas coming in – that everyone’s kind of like doing their part. And I think like the whole base. Like Marines coming in, like 19-year-old infantrymen just coming to give blood because someone said they probably should. People do it.
BROWN: Well good. So, your six months are up, you’re heading back to Landstuhl. And you know, are you happy to be done with your deployment? Are you wishing your deployment was longer? Are you ready to get back to Landstuhl?
BROWNE: Yeah, I was. I was ready to get back. I considered extending. And that sometimes people do that. It’s like while you’re there, if in your personal up at home, you think it could work out to extend. And I think I decided like, I, you know, I feel like the experience was very meaningful and and I had learned a lot being on that end being in Afghanistan, sending people to Germany when, you know, months prior I was in Germany receiving people from Afghanistan. But I think I felt ready to come back. And I think when you know you’re in Germany for three years, part of that is there’s so much, it’s very special to work at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. And then being in my mid-20s, living in Germany to be able to take advantage of where I live, I had that in my head too, with the timing of coming back. So, I was definitely at the time, I think also, like my parents hadn’t made it out to visit. And I had let’s say, you know, whatever, less than a year left of my timing in Germany. I knew that they would potentially come out too.
BROWNE: So, I’d admit you have to calculate all those things with, if to try and try and extend.
BROWN: So, what are some of the best places you went to while you’re in Germany?
BROWNE: I’ve never done a like list of my literal top because there’s so many. Anything with skiing. So, I like to ski, and Swiss Alps at Erlangen was a favorite. Arlberg in Austria was a favorite. And I would say, unrelated to skiing, probably in my top five trips was Normandy during D-Day. That was, you could read things in textbooks and learn about it, and then not even flying out there. We drove there. I had a 1996 Honda Civic that the Army – they’ll ship your car from stateside to Germany if you want to. So, this is my high school car driving around Europe with friends, hoping it lasts, which it did all the way through my tour. And yeah, there’s just so many trips because people will use the train. You have as options. There’s an airline called Ryanair with cheaper flights. You can go 40 Euro around that to fly places. So, skiing were definitely my top trips of like, “Wow, I’m skiing in the Alps and I drove here with my 1996 Honda Civic with friends.” But then also, like, I did like marches, like Volks marches. I did Nijmegen; it’s a four day, 25 mile per day march in the Netherlands. And like, there’s so many memories, some which are leisurely like going to an island. But then more of them were just doing unique things that I really probably wouldn’t ever do if I was stationed here where I could just locally hear about it and go to it. I think those are my favorite. But yeah, there’s you just, it’s almost a problem. There’s too many things to decide what to do. And you have a lot of friends that are always planning trips. You have to decide like, who do you want to jump in on a trip? Do you want to take the lead and plan a trip? And you know, you’re not going to see everything you want to see. You leave kind of being like, “There’s probably a thousand things I said I wanted to see that I didn’t.” And that’s kind of how I felt leaving. There’s every single thing I did was, you know, captured in a lot of pictures. But sometimes I look back and just like, “Wow, these are all in my 20s.” I was able to do a lot of driving or short flights.
BROWN: Sure. So, you’re about to leave Germany and where’s your next duty station? And are you sad to be leaving Germany?
BROWNE: I was sad. Yet kind of similarly, I was ready to come back to the States. You kind of feel like you’re on this three-year break from regular life. So, although it wasn’t just leisure, I did a lot of traveling. Working was hard, right? I’m working. It’s a challenging role as an Army nurse at Landstuhl, and traveling. But I was ready to come back, and I was very specific on I wanted to be in the Northeast. So, I kind of was working with my branch manager saying Bragg to West Point, New York. And I was like, maybe Drum, but I kind of wanted to keep it Northeast. And I ended up at Fort Dix, New Jersey, which was literally as you heard, I’m from New Jersey. I didn’t necessarily want that. But that’s what happened because I was getting, you know, you have to work with your branch manager that there’s needs of the Army. And I’m considered a 66 hotel, which is my AOC. That’s my identifier. And as a med surge nurse, you’re one of many nurses that are med surge nurses where, as you specialize, then there’s less of them. So, you know, med surge nurses can really fit in anywhere. And I just did not want to go in the middle of the U.S. somewhere. That was just what I was hoping not to do. And I was considering East Coast, Northeast, what I was like, “There’s so many options within the Northeast, they have to find a spot for me.: And I think after working back and forth with my branch manager about like, you know, I think she said something about Fort Riley and then Fort Irwin. These are places in middle of the U.S. and then California. We went back and forth and eventually she was like, “Well, what about Fort Dix?” And I thought about it. Well, you know, I wasn’t exactly wanting to go where it’s like 25 minutes, maybe 30 minutes from my parents’ house. But I said yes, because if I’m asking for Northeast, that’s right where I grew up. So, I played soccer tournaments at Fort Dix as a child. They have a big, big, big, massive field. They do tournaments like Memorial Day and Labor Day. So, I went from really one of the further duty stations to the closest to where I grew up, back-to-back.
BROWN: And what are you doing at Fort Dix? Are you still, you know, dealing with trauma injuries? There’s a much different age or experience of Fort Dix, much different than it was at Landstuhl. And then obviously then in Afghanistan.
BROWNE: Yeah, much different. There was a warrior transition unit there. I was assigned as a nurse case manager. And that would be people that are injured in some capacity while on orders, as a reservist, or as an active-duty person that can’t just go back to the regular unit. They need to recover. Or they need to get surgery and then recover. So, it’s a unit made to case manage people that have medical needs. So, you go from inpatient direct care nurse to nurse case manager. I’m wearing my uniform every day in the same way, but I’m at an office. Patients come to you to help, you know, you really help coordinate their care. “Hey, you have this appointment, that appointment. Oh, you have this issue going on,” you make another type of referral for something you work with the doctor, nurse team, and your own company command squad leader group and manage the patients. So most, you know, Fort Dix right now note that warrior transition unit no longer exists. They reconsolidate over time as certain sites aren’t needed. But at that time, Fort Dix was a hub of mainly reservists that came back through the SRP site. So, that’s where people would like come back home, see if they’re good or not. And if they’re good to go, they just go back home, come off of orders, go back to the unit. And if they have a medical need, you keep them on orders. And that’s what that was our unit. Very different.
BROWN; Yeah, much different. And what time is this? What years are you there?
BROWNE: This is 2011 to ‘14.
BROWN: Okay. And did you like that? Or did you prefer being, you know, in the mix, if you would, you know, what was your preference of the two?
BROWNE: I like being the direct care nurse. I think for the like nursing skills are gained by doing things over and over and over, and over time, and over years, and over decades. That’s how you become an expert in different things. Going out of the med surge area into case management as a 25 or six, maybe 26-year-old, that felt early for me with going into that role. So, that’s one side of it. And then the second side is actually gained a lot of understanding of the bigger picture. Because if you’re a direct care nurse, you’re really understanding your section, your unit, your nursing floor, the issues with the patient. Issues that maybe you watch what your head nurse has to work with and deal with. But you’re not understanding insurance or how referrals work, how care can be really fragmented in an outpatient scene or really efficiently done if someone, if a nurse is involved helping a patient. So, it’s almost like I’m in the middle. The benefit early is that I learned a lot about case management and that side of nursing early in my career, which that’s just set a tone. I think I’m understanding certain things earlier than maybe some of my peers, because sometimes in nursing in the civilian world, someone would go into case management after a lot more time in nursing, because they’re going to really understand the healthcare system, maybe have worked in different settings, and then they can help really manage things for patients, whether inpatient or outpatient. I wouldn’t say I went in at that stage because I was a newer, you know, let’s say three-year nurse, but I think because it was the Army, it was still very doable, and you still can advocate for a patient and understand how to manage their care at that level. So, it was also like an eye-opening experience to be a regular person Monday to Friday. I was like, that was the first time I woke up every day and had to like, you know, be at a place at 8 o’clock every day or 7:30 or whatever our start time was. I think it was 7:30 and it was unique, but I got used to it as you do everything. I just learned that shift workers have a good buy. You can like do shopping and all of your personal stuff on weekdays during the day, but if you work Monday to Friday, I learned like, “Wow, I do things when everyone else do things.” So, I kind of, it was a little bit of reality. I moved back from Germany to New Jersey and I live in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, about 25 minutes away. And it was more just, more felt like a regular, even though it was Army specific, I’m wearing a uniform. I’m still doing PT tests and going into the range. It was a little more like a, what I would say is kind of like a typical, like a –
BROWN: Yeah, a 9-to-5.
BROWN: Are you going into any, you know, are you taking advantage of a schooling longer there as far as, you know, building on that expertise? Or you just being a case manager and that’s what you’re doing?
BROWNE: I went to a case management course. That was a month, it was about six months long or six weeks, maybe it was a little less five weeks long, in San Antonio. And that was to learn about case management things. I didn’t do any civilian school during that time. That was a time of almost like just adjusting back into being, feeling more like a civilian. Civilian friends at that time.
BROWN: Sure. “Hey, you’re back home,” basically.
BROWNE: I joined a cross-fit gym and went like five to six days a week. That’s what I did on my evenings. If I could go back in time, I so wish that I did some evening classes at a place like Villanova or said college, or some university while I had that very consistent job, because I was single at the time. And it would have been a great thing. That’s when mentors and people, it’s nice when people guide you towards that that time. But no, I didn’t.
BROWN: So, you’re there, you’re enjoying your time, at least a little bit being back home, you’re adjusting. And what are your thoughts at this point? Are you thinking, “I’m going to be in the Army for life as an active-duty service member?” Are you thinking other avenues? What is your thought process as the path forward?
BROWNE: Yeah. But towards the – I was at Fort Dix for three years. And within that second year, that was a big, you know, big decision point in my mind. What should I do? And it took me almost a year to decide what to do. One path was go to Captain’s career course as an active duty service member. That would have meant definitely staying a year after that time frame and probably going in route to another duty station. That’s what that likely would have would have worked out to be. And the other path I was thinking is do I want to stay active duty? So, I, that year, I really had to weigh it. Because I think I liked what I was doing. I was very happy being in the Army. And part of me was also now back near home. And I knew that the next duty station would be somewhere different. And it seemed like if I did another duty station, I’d probably think like, “All right, now I’m doing 20 years,” because I’d already be towards 10. And I was at that five, six-year mark. So, over that years’ time, I decided to look at reserve options and look at the process to what would it mean to get out at this stage. So yeah, I learned the process. And that’s when I ended up pursuing. So, I put in a – I forget the name of the packet, but it’s a packet to like really push your commission. Oh, it’s called an “unqualified resignation.”
BROWN: Sounds interesting.
BROWN: Very Army term.
BROWNE: It was just a packet to say that I would like to get out voluntarily. And I was past my ROTC commitment, which was minimum of four years active. And it would be four years active, four years in the IRR, if that was the minimum. But what’s interesting is I actually thought I would do career active duty. So, it was a little bit of a change to what I initially thought. And I think at that time, a big driver was, I liked my friend group and scene in South Jersey. I had never, you always see like other side of the fences greener. I was like, I’ve never been a civilian nurse. I was just thinking, like, giving it a try, it would always be like, now or never. So, I was single at the time, like I said. And I was like, I would have more choice to, “I’m just going to move into Philadelphia area, see the scene.” And I said to myself, I could always do reserves if I want. So, I figured I would still, I could still keep some army there. But it was very hard because you’re leaving something that I liked. So.
BROWN: Right. But as we now know, you’re still in. So, you decided to keep going with the army just as a, you know, as a reservist. And are you looking back? Would you do the exact same thing if you were to turn back the clock?
BROWNE: Yeah, I feel like I would because there’s nothing else. Yeah, I can’t go back.
BROWNE: The timeline of when I got out is then when I met my husband. So, that would have never happened. So, it was like my whole life going forward from, let’s say August 2014, my entire life would be different. So, I would never go back. But yeah, I met my husband, Pete. I was on, like, leave at the end of vacation time. They let me use up a lot of vacation time at the end of my active duty. And I met him at a Team Red, White, and Blue event. And I think he’s the one that actually said, “Definitely go reserves.” I was even wavering within my summer on the end of active duty. And I went to a retention person really after meeting him to be like, “You know, this is a good idea.” And now my reserve career, I almost feel like being in the active duty and then reserves, I understand even more about the Army, because the reserves is a different role than the active duty. And some active duty, if they stay their whole career 30 years, retire as an active-duty nurse, that there’s an entire big, big portion of military that you don’t understand. You don’t. And that’s okay, because not everyone has to be in every component. It doesn’t work like that. But my understanding of the Army picture is even more in depth than if I just stayed active duty. And I also understand civilian life now. So, I kind of, I feel like all of that makes for, I think, just the, you know, just, it’s more enriched service, because I kind of understand the challenges of a reservist, the benefits of a reservist, and also the challenging benefits of an active-duty person. I really think there’s both on every single component.
BROWN: Mm-hmm. And so, we met Pete earlier. We interviewed him for the same history project. And he, as we all know, is a Marine, an enlisted Marine. So, what is it like, you know, being married to an enlisted Marine, being an Army officer. What is that like? You guys get flak from each other? You guys tease each other? You know, what is that like?
BROWNE: Yes, we have fun. We have very unique, you know, we’re very similar in so many ways, I think, on all the important things. But we have fun with the Army-Navy, kind of battles back and forth. I like, I have no problem being married to an enlisted service member, especially like the timing that we met. When we were both out, both reservists. I definitely didn’t mind one bit that he was a Marine. I have a definite respect for Marines and a definite, very unique with my background of being deployed in Afghanistan taking care of Marines. So, it was special to meet some of those Marines. And at that timing of our life, both, you know, him being in the reserves, me about to start in reserves and mutually supported. You know, I think that would have been hard. But we, I think he gives me tips sometimes as like, almost the enlisted eyes and brain and thinking about certain things. And then I’ll do the opposite. And I’ll just, you know, we’ll, almost, I think it complements each other. It’s almost like I’ve learned certain things from him. And then I’ve even like implemented certain things in my unit based off of feedback. And I don’t know if he does the same in his own world, but we talk about things and we have a certain language that’s similar and a certain language that we’ve learned of each other. So, there’s this mutual respect. And I think it’s fun because now I understand not only active duty and reserve, but I have such a depth now of Marines and Navy that I didn’t understand. And I have relatives. I just have a, you know, a cousin that just commissioned out of the Naval Academy this spring, a Navy nurse aunt as a captain that just retired. And I have ultimate respect for Navy, Army, Air Force. It doesn’t matter what service, but I just got to know more of it because of the, you know, it’s almost like that inside information that their terms and things. So, I like it. And it helps in my career too, because you learn like there’s joint things everywhere. I was in Fort McCoy this summer and an entire Navy unit was with us. Next door. We ate together the dining facility. Like, I knew their uniforms. I knew their rank. And you just know more about other services. And I think it’s everyone gets respect to more when you know more about the other service. And Pete’s definitely helped me with that.
BROWNE: Yeah, if I asked for it or not. But we do it. We do have fun because I won’t ever say things like, “Go Navy,” or something. It’s never happened. [laughs]
BROWN: [laughs] And then the other side of that is you’re both Villanovans. So, talk to me about how Villanova became an option for you. And what has your experience been like here at Villanova?
BROWNE: Yeah. Pete was, he was the first one to apply and get into the graduate program related to political science. And we were dating. And I had been looking at Drexel and Villanova. And I knew that I didn’t start school during that case management time. But as I started my civilian job and got out, I was looking at grad schools even before meeting Pete. But once I met Pete, and he was at Villanova and I was deciding between different schools, it helped make my decision. I mean, Pete, I’ll talk through and through about, “I was baptized in Villanova’s church.” “This is my family’s parish.” Like, he’s been dreaming of going to this school forever. I’m not from this area. So, I wouldn’t say I’m as like “Villanova forever,” or you know, as passionate as Pete is as far as the history of it. What I like from the start is just how I, for the first time went to a Catholic school in college for Scranton. And I like that this was a Catholic school, even if not Jesuit, which I’m very loyal, Jesuits. It’s special to also go to another Catholic school for graduate school. And I just knew of Villanova’s reputation of excellence for the nursing program. So, it’s almost sometimes intimidating to say like, “Yeah, I’m gonna apply to Villanova’s nursing programs. Like hopefully this this works out.” And it and it did. So, I applied and got in, and then Pete and I were grad students together for multiple semesters. And there’s a camaraderie to that. We drove to classes together. It makes it easier when it’s like we’re in the trenches together doing papers and certain things.
BROWNE: You kind of understand what goes into grad school.
BROWN: And what is your, you know, from an academic standpoint, has Villanova lived up to your expectations? The professors and the, you know, what has all that experience been like from that point of view as you’re about to become, you’re going towards the nursing educator track yourself?
BROWNE: Yeah, I’ve had a wonderful experience thus far. And I’m approaching – this is my last semester. So, I’ll finish in December. And our college isn’t doing graduation in December. We’ll be doing it in May. But it took me time to get more connected with the college itself of nursing and campus. And I think because the first two years doing one or two classes at a time, and I would do them the same night and come to class right after class, leave from class. And we really do have to step out of that and stay a little longer and talk with peers and students and get to know faculty outside the classroom. And that’s happened my second half of my program. And I’ve really enjoyed the second half of my program so much more. Because you get to know the same people and classes as well as the fellow nursing students. Faculty that I’ve had more than once or faculty that I’ve only had once, but I’ll keep in touch with long term, well past Villanova. But just seeing them in the hallway, seeing how they’re doing them, seeing how I’m doing. As far as the experience with class, I’ve especially really, really liked our practicums in the nursing department. That’s when you get out and really do what you’re learning, and theory in the classroom, you get out and do it. And I was at Paoli Hospital with a Villanova alumni Jen Kohler. She’s a nurse educator. And I absolutely love that because you’re just with her every day. You’re seeing what she does. It’s just being in the life of a nurse educator and doing certain projects along with that. And then right now I’m in my teaching practicum with Dr. Betty Bruderle. I’m meeting so many faculty going to their meetings, seeing different classes. I’m feeling like a nurse educator and it’s getting that experience under my belt for when I would hopefully be doing that soon after campus. But the, yeah, the nursing program is definitely bigger than Scranton. So, I get a bigger feel. I think we, undergrad, we had 65 students, they have 100. So, there’s more faculty. But I just say like the expert faculty is incredible. There are people with so many specialties, like they have their niche with research or what they’ve done in their practice. I’ve also really appreciated there’s some faculty that absolutely work with veterans, like Dr. Moriarty, Dr. Burrell, … They’ve really been professors I’ve enjoyed talking with because they also understand veterans. I would say even more than others. And they understand a lot of the different medical needs of veterans. The research is all about it. They’re passionate. And that’s been really special to learn about like that niche within Villanova as well.
BROWN: Well, that about wraps up our interview for today. But before we leave, are there any other parting thoughts? Do you have any things you want to add to your story that you want to make sure that, you know, someday your daughter’s going to listen to this? Is there anything you want to make sure that she hears or you content with your story, you’re going to keep it as is?
BROWNE: Yeah, well, I’ll just thank you for even mentioning my daughter. That’s the, being a graduate student, I think is the something where you’re used to know so much more about your profession than let’s say undergrads. And you’re juggling all these different things going on in life, like being a wife, a mom, and –
BROWN: An Army major.
BROWNE: An army major. Multiple jobs. It’s all good things. And I think most faculty, what’s wonderful is they’ve been there, and they understand or, just wonderful working with different students. But I just want to say that the veteran presence on campus, it does seem to be just more out there and talked about, I think, in a good way. So, I thank you, Mike, for what you’re doing. You know, with different things on campus. There’s definitely been a change in the last couple of years that I’ve noticed. And I think Pete would say the same thing, which is all good. So, hopefully that will be something that, when coming back as an alumni, I’ll see even more going on with veterans and connecting us to the campus.
BROWN: Well, thank you for joining us today. I appreciate you coming in and telling your story, and that wraps up this edition of the Voices of Villanova’s Veterans.
BROWN (OUTRO): That concludes this installment of the Voices of Villanova’s Veterans, a joint project of the Villanova University Office of Veterans and Military Service Members and Falvey Memorial Library’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement departments. Thank you for listening. For more information and to listen to more interviews, please visit us online at veteransvoices.library.villanova.edu.
 Inaudible phrase.
 Redstone Arsenal is a United States Army post and a census-designated place adjacent to Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama, United States and is part of the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. The Arsenal is a garrison for various tenants across the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and NASA.
 The 82nd Airborne Division is an airborne infantry division of the United States Army specializing in parachute assault operations into denied areas with a U.S. Department of Defense requirement to “respond to crisis contingencies anywhere in the world within 18 hours.”
 The 10th Mountain Division is a light infantry division in the United States Army based at Fort Drum, New York. Formerly designated as a mountain warfare unit, the division was the only one of its size in the US military to receive specialized training for fighting in mountainous conditions.
 Inaudible phrase.
 MRE: Meals, Ready-to-Eat. The MRE is designed to sustain an individual engaged in heavy activity such as military training or during actual military operations when normal food service facilities are not available.
 The Paleo diet is a modern fad diet consisting of foods thought by its proponents to mirror those eaten by humans during the Paleolithic era.
 EPW: Enemy Prisoner of War.
 Inaudible phrase.
 In the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Space Force, a first lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer.
 Inaudible phrase.
 Inaudible phrase.
 IRR: Individual Ready Reserve. Members of the IRR are trained Soldiers who may be called upon, if needed, to replace Soldiers in active duty and Army Reserve units.
 Inaudible phrase.