Velez was the daughter of a Colombian father and a Puerto Rican mother.
She served in Korea and Iraq, and decided to make a career out of the Army. When she was killed she was three months pregnant with her first child, and was excited about becoming a mother.
Velez participated in ROTC in her Chicago high school and fulfilled her father’s dream of joining the military. She was a fueler in the 15th Brigade Support Battalion and attached 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, both in the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
She returned from Iraq a few days before she died. She was bright and charismatic, said her battalion’s rear detachment commander. Velez is survived by her parents, Eileen Rodriguez and Juan G. Velez, and brothers, Juan and Andrew Velez. Velez was 21 at the time of her death.