May 31, 2022  

Driving support for the families of veterans

PepsiCo Transport Driver Belinda Mendoza served in the Army and continues to give back with Rolling Remembrance.

“I love to drive, because every time I do, I get to see different things,” Belinda Mendoza says. She can spend up to 10 hours at a time on highways between the rolling hills of central Texas and the southern tip of the state, tuning into finance podcasts or rock music along the way.

“I’m not looking at the same sights over and over,” she says. “The scenery is always changing.” Belinda turned that joy of being behind the wheel into a 21-year career at PepsiCo, devoting most of her tenure as a Transport Driver making deliveries to plants around Texas.

Last month, Belinda embarked on a particularly meaningful drive — a 40-mile trip from Lancaster, Texas, to PepsiCo’s Plano headquarters as part of the company’s Rolling Remembrance relay. The annual event raises awareness and funds for Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, an organization that provides college scholarships to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.

“Being a part of Rolling Remembrance, that was a huge honor for me,” says Belinda, who is a military veteran. “I have friends who lost their lives overseas, and I’ve stayed connected to their families and kids. To be able to help them in this way and get them the education they need is just awesome.”

Being a part of Rolling Remembrance, that was a huge honor for me.

Belinda was one of 36 PepsiCo drivers — all military veterans — who took part in the relay, which has raised more than $1.4 million since it first began seven years ago. Their journey covered 10,000 miles, with drivers handing off an American flag first flown in combat to one another at 53 PepsiCo sites from Seattle to the company’s headquarters in Purchase, New York. “Carrying that flag in memory of a fallen soldier was very emotional for me, because I was blessed to come back three times,” Belinda says.

Following in the footsteps of her uncle and older brother, Belinda enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1997. She was called up to active duty following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and served three year-long tours in Iraq between 2003-11, hauling tanks and other heavy equipment to troops stationed around the country. In between, Belinda returned home to drive her PepsiCo routes in the San Antonio area. “PepsiCo was with me every step of the way during my military career,” she says. “Knowing I had that support allowed me to focus on my responsibilities overseas.”

Belinda Mendoza was a transport driver for the U.S. Army and served three tours in Iraq between 2003-11.

Belinda Mendoza was a transport driver for the U.S. Army
and served three tours in Iraq between 2003-11.

But even though she is no longer active-duty military, Belinda still seeks opportunities to serve her community, like signing on for Rolling Remembrance. “It’s really important to me to make a positive impact,” she says. She’s a member of the Wounded Warrior Project and also makes an effort to engage with other veterans working at PepsiCo, finding ways to connect with those based near her and attending local company events.

“I’ve always wanted to give back,” Belinda says. “Service, to me, means putting others first. That’s something that I’m grateful to God that I am able to do.”