Advocating for Women Veterans at Iowa and Across the Country

Yareli Mendoza poses before the United States flag

In January 2018, Yareli Mendoza, a doctoral candidate in the University of Iowa College of Education, was appointed to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. The committee is an expert panel that advises the VA secretary on issues and programs of importance to women veterans, their families, and caregivers.

Mendoza enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2005 in Security Forces. She was stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California, where her primary assignments were law enforcement patrol officer and 911 dispatcher. She deployed to Iraq in 2006 and 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2009, she was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon her return from Afghanistan in 2010, Mendoza decided to separate from the military to pursue her education.

After her time in the Air Force, Mendoza enrolled at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration. While pursuing her degrees, she spent five years working with the student veteran and military-connected population at Cal State, Fullerton. Through her various roles working for CSU-Fullerton’s Veterans Resource Center, she helped create and implement programming for student veterans and their families. Much of the programing focused on and supported the personal and professional development goals of student veterans and their families. Special emphasis was spent on programming for women student veterans.

Why is the VA Advisory committee significant?

Mendoza: The Advisory Committee on Women Veterans assesses the needs of women veterans with respect to VA programs such as compensation, rehabilitation, outreach, healthcare, etc. The committee reviews VA’s programs, activities, research projects, and other initiatives designed to meet the needs of women veterans; and makes recommendations to the secretary on ways to improve, modify, and affect change in programs and services for women veterans. The committee follows up on all recommendations.

What is your vision for supporting women Veterans at Iowa?

Mendoza: Through my appointment to the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, I have become a direct advocate for more than 1.5 million women veterans across the nation. With that said, my commitment to veterans begins with the women veterans here at the University of Iowa and within our immediate community. Combining my extensive experience as a student affairs practitioner, professional training in student-centered pedagogy, and commitment to serving women veterans, I hope to collaborate with UI’s Military and Veterans Student Services in creating, centering, and expanding services for women veterans on campus.

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