During Women’s History Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Rita Abeytia Brock-Perini, a nurse during the Vietnam War.
Rita Abeytia Brock-Perini was born in August 1938 in Phoenix and had seven sisters and two brothers. After she graduated from Catholic St. Mary’s High School in 1956, she earned a nursing degree at St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Phoenix, inspired by caring for her nine siblings.
One of Brock-Perini’s brothers was in the Marine Corps. After 10 years of being a nurse, Brock-Perini volunteered for the military after she heard an Air Force recruiter’s speech. In 1959, she graduated officer candidate school in Wichita Falls, Texas.
During the Vietnam War, as a captain in the Air Force Nursing Corps, Brock-Perini was assigned to the Wilford Hall Medical Center, which was the largest Air Force hospital at the time. The number of wounded soldiers greatly increased after the Tet Offensive, but many of the nurses were young and seeing the wounded soldiers took a toll on them. Brock-Perini used her years of experience to care for both the soldiers and these young nurses.
Before the Vietnam War ended, Brock-Perini left the Air Force in order to join the American Red Cross in 1971. Later, she earned a bachelor of science in nursing from Arizona State University. She then became a member of the Veterans Medical Leadership Council, where she helps Veterans find jobs and advocates on behalf of VA.
Brock-Perini was the first woman in her family to join the military, something she highlighted in an interview.
“Those of us who can do anything to make [Veterans’ lives] better should be willing to do it,” she said. “Had it not been for all of these people — for all of those before me who were in the military in all of the wars … it has improved life for the rest of us.”
Thank you for your service!
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Hannah Nelson
Editor: Julia Pack
Graphic artist: Helena Strohmier