The California Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Team was on hand Wednesday evening for the awarding of a Latino Spirit Award to Deputy Secretary Mirtha Villarreal-Younger by the Latino Journal and Café de California.
The “Latino Spirit” Award recognizes individuals for statewide exemplary work to strengthen California’s democracy and advance the representation of Latino’s in public service.
Mirtha Villarreal-Younger was appointed by Gov. Brown as deputy secretary for Minority Veterans Affairs at the California Department of Veterans Affairs last July 31.
As deputy secretary her charge is to assure minority and LGBT veterans have knowledge of and access to the veteran benefits they have earned. Villarreal-Younger also is heading up the CalVet effort to complete the Beautification of the California Mexican American Veterans Memorial at the Capitol.
“I am honored to be acknowledged for my efforts on behalf of veterans. It is a pleasure to serve the men and women that have served in the military,” said Villarreal-Younger. “I thank Café and the Latino Journal for continuing the effort to honor those in our community and I am proud to be included in this group.”
A native Californian, Villarreal-Younger is a 22-year military veteran, 11 years with the United States Army and 11 years with the National Guard. She has served several overseas tours, including a combat tour in Afghanistan.
At the California National Guard she served as the first Latina officer candidate school commander and public information officer.
As public information officer, she was responsible for outreach to the Hispanic community. Her work in public affairs included highlighting the many current and past accomplishments of Hispanic service members.
Deputy Secretary Villarreal-Younger is a first generation Mexican American and the first woman in her family to graduate from college.
“I am delighted that the CalVet staff is acknowledged for the efforts that they make every day on behalf of veterans,” said CalVet Secretary Peter Gravett. “It was wonderful that so many of the staff took time to share the honor with the Mirtha.”
Also joining the secretary were Undersecretary Diane Vanderpot, Undersecretary Michael Wells, Deputy Secretary Deborah Harper, Assistant Deputy Secretary Alicia Bugarin, a member of the Latina Advisory Committee and past recipient of the “Latino Spirit” Award, and Villarreal’s husband National Guard Major Michael Younger.