KINGSTON, RI – April 28, 2021 – The University of Rhode Island’s own Rachael Garcia has been named the 2021 Rhode Island Woman Veteran of the Year by the Providence Regional Office of the Veterans Benefit Administration, part of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Garcia, URI’s assistant director of Veteran Affairs and Military Programs and a tireless advocate for military veterans, active duty and military families on URI’s campuses and across the state, was honored as part of a virtual ceremony on April 22.
Garcia, who lives in Warwick, is a United States Air Force veteran who has served in foreign and domestic operations, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and being deployed as a gunner to Iraq in 2006. Since she separated from the military in late 2007, Garcia has continued to serve as an advocate for veterans and their families and is well known to those on federal, state and local levels who work on their behalf.
Commenting on her focus and dedication, Director of the Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services Kasim Yarn stated, “Rachael represents qualities that we find in the best leaders: integrity, commitment to others, and loyalty to her team. Her partnership on important initiatives such as our RIServes network and RI VetCorps demonstrates her dedication to Rhode Island’s Veterans and military families. She uses the skills she developed in the military for the betterment of our state’s veterans, youth, and community members – I congratulate and applaud her for being recognized as the 2021 Rhode Island Woman Veteran of the Year.”
A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Garcia earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology with a minor focusing on African American Literature in 2012, before obtaining her Master of Social Work, which focused on trauma recovery, from Portland State University in 2016. This is her second stint at the University working on behalf of URI’s student veteran population. Prior to graduate school, Garcia worked for several years as a veterans coordinator at URI.
“We could not be more proud of Rachael, as alumna or of the work she is doing at URI,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Kathy M. Collins. “As the assistant director of Veteran Affairs and Military Programs, Rachael has been an important part of helping many of our students feel welcome and supported as they embark on their academic careers or return to higher education. Her recognition as the 2021 Rhode Island Woman Veteran of the Year is well deserved.”
Since returning to the University in 2018, Garcia has been focused on raising awareness of military culture and identity and helping veterans, active-duty military and their families. She has worked to promote policy change and develop programs at the state and national level designed to support the success of veterans across the country.
Under Garcia, URI’s Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs serves as a resource for new and prospective students in understanding VA and military benefits, GI bill certification, financial aid and scholarships and much more. Importantly, the office provides a way to connect URI’s veteran and military community to one another and to the programs and support – both on campus and off – that will help them be successful.