Janine (Bradley) Suchecki grew up in Hingham and graduated from HHS in 1995. Janine and her husband Dan are now raising their two children (Charlie 10 and Jack 4) in Hingham, as well. In addition to being a "perpetual volunteer," as Janine puts it, she is also a Veteran, owns The Hungry Shark, LLC, a business marketing strategies consultancy, and she is the Marketing Director for Safe Harbor Cohasset, a substance misuse prevention coalition (www.safeharborcohasset.org).
Janine made history by being the first female in the history of the U.S. Navy to complete passive Sonar training. She was trained to follow schematics and listen to different sounds to determine if a sound was a school of fish or a submarine, before switching to active sonar to send out signals that bounce off the ocean floor to hone in on the location.
Janine currently serves on three boards for the Town of Hingham: six years as Chair of the Hingham Cultural Council, five years as Vice Chair & Public Affairs Officer on the Veterans Council, and she is beginning her second year as Vice Chair and Housing Commissioner for the Hingham Housing Authority. She is a member of the American Legion Post 120.
Hingham, meet Janine.
What inspired you to enlist in the Navy?
When I started my senior year of high school, I could not decide if I wanted to attend college for physical therapy or finance, so I decided I needed some time to make up my mind.
My grandfather was an electrician’s mate in WWI on the USS Mt. Vernon, and my father was a catapult man on the USS Hancock in WWII. None of my cousins on the Bradley side of the family decided to serve, so I decided to carry on our family tradition of service in the US Navy.
Was it your choice to be a sonar technician, or were you assigned to that position?
With the education I received in Hingham Public Schools, I breezed through the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) with very high scores. This test determines what military operational specialties (jobs) are available to you. In 1995, the US Navy opened the sonar technician position to women for the first time. This position requires a very high ASVAB score. During my visit to the Barnes Building in Boston where the test was administered, I was offered my choice of positions. The positions requiring the higher ASVAB scores come with lots of military training, with college equivalent credits. Nuclear electrician positions were also offered to me. I had no idea what a sonar technician was. When I learned that it was part of the weapons department, and that I would use sound, navigation and ranging to locate targets such as other ships and submarines, learn about cruise missiles, and how to trace and engage targets all while being one of the first women in the position, I decided that would be a good fit for me.
You made history in the Navy. Tell us a little bit about that.
I attended boot camp at Great Lakes Recruit Training Command Center in Illinois. Following boot camp, I was assigned to my command to attend training to become a Sonar Technician. When I arrived at Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center in San Diego, there were no barracks for women since the position was just opening up to women. After attending Digital Electronics Training school, basic warfare training, and active sonar training, I was offered the opportunity to train on passive sonar technology. Passive sonar uses a towed array, or sonobuoys that are dropped from helicopters in designated areas to listen to the water. I learned how to repair circuit boards, follow schematics and listen to different sounds to determine if a sound was a school of fish or a submarine, before switching to active sonar to send out signals that bounce off the ocean floor to hone in on the location. The entire class was full of fleet returnees, with advanced rank that had prior sonar experience. I was the first female to complete this training, and it was an honor.
If you could pass along one message to a young woman looking into the armed forces as an option out of high school, what would it be?
Go for it! The life skills and exposure in the military will teach you discipline you will not learn elsewhere. And that discipline (and potential for military scholarship funding) will help you in college if you choose to go a few years later. Being a proud member of the 7% of the population that serves in the armed forces, and the 1% of the population that is female, will provide you with future opportunities that you would not have otherwise.
How long have you been active with the Hingham Veterans Services and what’s your current role?
I am currently on the 2nd year of my second 3-year term on the Veterans Council. I serve as the Vice Chair, as well as the Public Affairs Officer, providing information on benefits and information to the public.
What’s the one thing you would like the residents of Hingham to know about Hingham Veterans Services?
Hingham residents are fortunate to have such a strong Veterans Service Department. Keith Jermyn, Director of Veterans’ Services goes above and beyond for the Town’s veterans. We are recognized as one of the best in the state, and often referenced as the “measure” of how it should be. What people may not realize is that Keith spends a lot of his own personal time making sure things here are done to that high standard, and that veterans are recognized in a way that the entire town can be proud of. Keith and his assistant, Lisa Potts, go above and beyond in helping residents and relatives, answering questions, and honoring all veterans. This is a team that will be nearly impossible to replace or replicate.
What inspired you to run for a seat on the Hingham Housing Authority last year?
I saw an immediate need for the residents. The board was not communicating effectively with other town boards, and I wanted to help the Housing Authority residents receive the proper care.
How has that been so far?
It has been an amazing experience. Our board now functions effectively. We have finally been able to dialog with other town boards and committees, in the best interest of the public. We have hired an effective new Executive Director, James Marathas. Mr. Marathas was highly recommended by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Since James started working with us, the residents have told us how happy they are that their housing needs are met quickly, safety concerns are addressed, repairs are completed correctly and efficiently, and our board is provided with clear outlines and documents of how we are functioning. I am thankful to the other members of the board for our strong working relationship and dedication to serving Hingham.
Who do you find to be the most inspiring person in Hingham?
The Hingham Volunteer. Our Town government has thrived because of the Hingham Volunteer, past and present. Hingham boards and committees are filled with amazing people, from different political parties, backgrounds, creeds and financial situations who continuously put aside their differences, focus on the Town’s needs, and work together to serve Hingham for the best interest of the residents.
When presented with two options, when did you make a choice that totally changed the course of your life.
Signing up to serve our country at the young age of 17 certainly changed the course of my life. I’m not sure I’d have the empathy for others that I have now if I had not done that.
Growing up in the northeast, never mind Hingham, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. It was an eyeopener and a good reminder for the younger me to know that not all people have the same opportunities.
Favorite local spot?
Without any hesitation, my favorite local spot is the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall on Main Street. This beautiful building, built in 1869 as the first fraternal organization for Union soldiers returning from the Civil War was a meeting place, and even served as a silent movie theater in the early 1900s. GAR has always had a place in my life. As a young girl I took ballet lessons there (with my 2 left feet!).
I was more interested in spending time on the cannon out front, than in the class however. Now, GAR has been lovingly restored and houses some pretty amazing wartime memorabilia and pieces of our town’s veteran history. My dress blue uniform is on display there.
There is something about this place that brings me comfort, and it always makes me count my blessings and reflect on those who served before me.
Favorite restaurant and meal in Hingham?
There are a lot of really amazing restaurants in Hingham. I love the Scarlet Oak Tavern, Burtons Grille, and Crow Point as well for takeout, but my favorite I would have to say is Stars. I enjoy the simplicity of it. The servers and management are always kind and accommodating. It’s a spot that me and my closest friends go to grab breakfast or lunch together, and as a family, we head there for dinner. You can’t beat their corned beef hash!
What is one thing on your bucket list?
I would love to return to San Diego and visit my old stomping grounds from my Navy days with my family. My husband and children have not been to the West Coast, or had REAL Mexican food – so this is a MUST DO on my bucket list!
Do you have a hidden talent?
I am very good at handling things in crisis, and do not walk away no matter how traumatic the situation may be. Whether it be a disabled vehicle, a car accident, a choking child, or a person in physical or emotional distress, I have been able to manage these situations and can come up with solutions quickly.
What's one thing people may not know about you?
I love to cook, and I am pretty good at it. And I’ve been using the time during the quarantine to learn some new dishes.