U.S. Army veteran has new mission: serving students
Michael Brouillette has spent more than half his life serving this country in the U.S. Army. In fact, that service that came close to ending his life. In 1976, at just 20 years old, he was wounded when his squadron was ambushed in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). He was awarded the Purple Heart, but even after being seriously wounded he was determined to stay in the Army.
“I rose to the rank of Sergeant First Class (E-7), then went to Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. I served a total of 30 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2005,” he said. In addition to his Purple Heart, Brouillette earned a Bronze Star during the Iraq War as the Officer in Charge of opening the airfields for the operation.
Today, he proudly serves students as Senior Academic Advisor and Adjunct Faculty member in Psychology at Brandman’s campus in Lacey, Washington, where he says it is a privilege to work with students, especially veterans who are returning from combat overseas – many of them with PTSD, or other issues readjusting.
“I certainly have a unique perspective on what it’s like to return to civilian life after combat,” he said. And although he was never diagnosed with PTSD, the retired Lt. Col. knows a thing or two about personal pain; in 1995 he lost his 15-year-old son to cancer.
It was a difficult time in his life, he says, but Brouillette eventually emerged from that pain and sorrow by pursing his master’s degree. During his time in the Army, he used his GI Bill benefits to earn a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, graduating Magna Cum Laude from St. Martin’s University. In 2008, he earned a master’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage & Family Therapy at Brandman.
“Returning to continue my education was a way to kind of refocus my life,” he said. “I fell in love with Brandman as a student – so much so that I pursued this job and helped to open the Lacy campus as the sole academic advisor.”
Brouillette’s next mission in life would be to serve students in his role at Brandman, but he does much more for the veteran community; in 2014, he opened the Balanced Counseling and Hypnosis Center in Lacey with the goal of helping veterans when it comes to mental health and readjusting to civilian life. He sees clients at the Center primarily on weekends, which makes for a pretty full schedule on top of his roles at Brandman, but he says it is a labor of love.
“The Center has allowed me to put my education to work helping other veterans,” he said. “But it also provides great clinical experience, which ultimately helps make me a better faculty member.”
As we conclude Veteran Appreciation Month at Brandman University, Brouillette would like to share this poem he wrote during active duty in Iraq.
A Soldier’s Sunset
Another day comes to an end
I sit and watch your glory
Far from home this to defend
Please listen to my story
The night comes in and so do they
I’m not afraid ‘cause I have you
I’ll sit here quietly and pray
Awake in the morn and start a new
There is no doubt that this sunset
Will not be the last one you give
For I have You and won’t forget
Your Son gave all so I might live.
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