Treating Veterans With TBl SLP Sees Impact and Consequences of Combat Injuries In the Limelight
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In the Limelight  |   November 01, 2010
Treating Veterans With TBl
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing Disorders / School-Based Settings / Healthcare Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / International & Global / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   November 01, 2010
Treating Veterans With TBl
The ASHA Leader, November 2010, Vol. 15, 45. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.15132010.45
The ASHA Leader, November 2010, Vol. 15, 45. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.15132010.45
Name: Claudia Mendoza, MS, CCC-SLP
Title: Speech-Language Pathologist, Mentis Neuro Rehabilitation
Location: El Paso, Texas
Claudia Mendoza hikes with her two daughters at the Oregon Mountains in Las Cruces, N.M.
Like many young adults, Claudia Mendoza wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do professionally. But still, she had some nascent notions. She knew whatever she eventually ended up doing for a living, she wanted to help people. Additionally, she knew eventually she wanted a husband, children, and a full life.
In short, she wanted it all.
Although she didn’t have a clear goal then, she did have some seeds of inspiration that would eventually guide her. For starters, she had a friend in high school who was deaf, and Mendoza always wanted to find ways to better communicate with her. Also, growing up in El Paso, Texas—home of the U.S. Army installation Fort Bliss—she was part of a community where the military lifestyle touched everyone, active duty or civilian.
“We have friends and neighbors in the military, and our children attend school together,” she said. “These are the people who you see every day and are a part of your life.”
Even as the years moved along and milestones came and went, her ambition to find a way to help people grew stronger. Her parents had not gone to college but she viewed pursuing an education as an investment in herself. She worked for several years in jobs that didn’t really fulfill her goals and “somehow along the way” learned about speech-language pathology. She spoke with a guidance counselor (and admittedly had a moment of hesitation when she found out about the educational commitment) and set her sights high anyway. With the help of her husband and mother, Mendoza was able to start her graduate program at the University of Texas mere weeks after she gave birth to her first daughter in 2002.
Today (and another daughter later) she is a speech-language pathologist and works in a rehabilitation center with adults with acquired brain injury. As a part of an interdisciplinary team, she helps these patients—many of whom are returning soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—rehabilitate from wounds resulting in mild traumatic brain injury. She helps them relearn how to communicate and connect with their families and communities.
“It’s always very emotional,” Mendoza said. “You see the impact and the consequences of the brain injury. You see how it affects their families and friends. You think about these men and women who were leaders and were protecting others on these extensive missions and now life as they knew it before has abruptly changed. I feel fortunate that I can be part of the recovery process for the men and women serving in our military.”
At the moment she is enjoying simply living in the moment, enjoying her career, enjoying her family, and fulfilling her dream of having it all.
“I wanted to pursue this and I knew it was going to be challenging,” she said. “I couldn’t have done this without my husband and mom. I love that my profession allows me to help people, and it’s very rewarding when my patients succeed.”
Contact Claudia Mendoza at camendoza6025@yahoo.com.
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November 2010
Volume 15, Issue 13