Colonel Joan Burton is a fictional chcaracter from the Lifetime television series Army Wives, portrayed by Wendy Davis.

About JoanEdit

AW6 cast wendy4
Raised on the tough streets of Chicago’s South Side, Joan Burton overcame a troubled youth by becoming a Citadel cadet. Through grit and determination, Joan defied expectations and rose through the ranks, becoming Fort Marshall’s first African American female lieutenant colonel — commanding more than 400 men. She has taken on deployments worldwide, including a difficult tour of duty in Afghanistan that caused her to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder a few years ago.

Placing the military before marriage has caused Joan problems with her husband, psychiatrist Roland Burton, but that is in the past. Her life is totally different now that Joan has had a baby girl (Sarah Elizabeth) and her husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad. Solider versus mother woes kicked in when Joan grappled with getting her redeployment orders, not wanting to leave her hubby or newborn daughter behind.

Fictional biographyEdit

Joan is married to Dr. Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown), which makes Roland the lone "Army husband" among

Joan Burton


First Appearance

"A Tribe is Born" (episode 1.01)

Created by

Katherine Fugate

Portrayed by

Wendy Davis




Garrison commander Soldier


Colonel in the U.S. Army (23rd Airborne Division)


Roland Burton (husband;2 children [1 adopted])


Sara Elizabeth Burton (daughter, with Roland)

David Burton (son, with Roland; adopted)


Fort Marshall, South Carolina

the main characters. After returning from deployment in Season 1, Joan struggles with PTSD resulting from her experiences while deployed. Her relationship with Roland suffers, and he has a one-night stand with a visiting reporter due to his feelings of alienation and dissatisfaction. He confesses to Joan when she returns from abroad, leading talk of divorce. But the two reconcile following her announcement that she is pregnant and the explosion at the Hump Bar.

Season 2 deals with Joan's pregnancy, and her daughter, Sara Elizabeth, is born at the end of the Season. Sara Elizabeth celebrates her first birthday in Season 4. Sara Elizabeth's godparents are Claudia Joy and General Michael Holden.


Aw finale 15
Joan is initially a Lt. Colonel in the Army, and leads a combat unit in Agfhanistan. In the pilot episode, she returns home from a two year deployment, suffering from PTSD. Her career nearly ends with an Article 15 after a decision she makes causes a soldier with PTSD to hold Roland and Claudia Joy hostage. Although she considers retiring to avoid a court martial, Col. Holden eventually has a change of heart and destroys the Article 15. Throughout the first season, she struggles to cope with events that occurred while she was deployed, eventually leaving for a treatment facility. During the Season 1 finale, she discovers she is pregnant.

While waiting for orders to return to her unit in Season 2, she is offered a plush (but demanding) job working for General Holden as his Executive Officer. During this time, she hides her pregnancy while deciding whether or not to keep the baby. When she finally confesses that she is pregnant, General Holden hires Evan as a temporary replacement while assuring Joan that her job will be there when she returns. Evan does his best to undermine Joan's capabilities in front of General Holden. He almost succeeds, but is finally thwarted when Joan's unit soundly defeats his in a war games exercise.

Despite doing everything she had to do to keep the job working for General Holden, Joan realizes via the war games victory that her true value to the Army is in combat. She asks General Holden if she can return to the field in Iraq, which also causes much tension with Roland and a tearful goodbye moment with Sara Elizabeth. In Season 4, she is re-deployed to Iraq and suffers an eye injury after her patrol comes under attack from an IED. Upon her return to Fort Marshall, she is diagnosed with Traumantic Brian Injury (TBI). Joan Burton was promoted to Colonel, She was notified of her promotion to Colonel by her Commanding Officer and also received the additional duty of Garrison Commander in Season 5, a job that brings her into conflict with Roxy LeBlanc after TJ steals from the P/X.


Working Moms praised the Joan Burton character in a 2010 article, defining the character as a working mom balancing a military career with marriage and a newborn baby, and adding, "She defied expectations and became Fort Marshall's first African American female lieutenant colonel."

Wendy Davis has also received two NAACP Image Award nominations for her portrayal of Joan Burton.


  1. ^ Lewis, Katherine. "Profile of Character Joan Burton of Army Wives on Lifetime." Article at Working Moms. [1]
  2. ^ Bio at
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