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NEWS | April 27, 2021

2020 Exceptional Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate of the Year Award

By Sgt. Maximiliano Rosas 1st Marine Logistics Group

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Gunnery Sgt. Guadalupe Castillo, the supply chief  at 1st Transportation Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, is set to receive the 2020 Exceptional Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate of the Year Award on March 25, 2021.

Coming from a traditional Mexican family, Castillo, a resident of Santa Ana, Calif., found herself searching for more as a full time college student. She found it in the Marine Corps. “It wasn't really meant as an outlet, it was more of something that I always wanted to do,” she said. “Being a first generation Mexican-American, being born in Mexico, I felt like giving back to a country that has given me so much, it was just my way to repay that debt.” It was then that Castillo decided to enlist on April 23, 2001, just five months before the 9/11 attacks on the United States. 

Completing Recruit Training, Marine Combat Training, and her Military Occupational Specialty school as a supply administration and operations specialist, Castillo rose through the ranks, gaining exciting experiences and responsibilities along the way. “In the past 19 years I’ve grown and learned so much because of the Marine Corps and so it’s hard to pinpoint highlights.” One of the opportunities that arose through her diligent work was becoming a SAPR Uniformed Victim Advocate. While at the beginning Castillo was hesitant to accept the role, due to the job’s rigorous nature along with its demands of balancing work and home life, she believed that this would be one of the best ways for her to serve her fellow servicemen and women. “It's a collateral duty that you can't just write off, you can't just give 50% or 75% to it, its a full 100%.”

Its Castillo’s earnest commitment to excellence that demonstrates how well she lives up to the standards set before her as a UVA. 

“Across the Marine Corps, more than 1,200 uniformed and civilian SAPR VAs stand ready 24/7/365 to support and advocate for those who experience sexual assault.” Those words in the Marine Administrative Message describe the framework for the characteristics of an exceptional SAPR UVA. Castillo strived to live up to those words every day and her numbers reflect her dedication to the cause. As the 1st TSB UVA, Castillo provided 18 classes of training in the SAPR program to more than 1,000 Marines and Sailors, sharing her genuine empathy for the service members she supported throughout their traumatic experiences. Castillo maintains that her success was only possible due to the incredible support system within the SAPR UVA team. “If it weren't for the people that I work with, I wouldn't have been successful to begin with. I always say to them at the end of the day, I couldn't have done this by myself.”

“You know, you don’t expect an award,” she said. “You don't become a SAPR UVA expecting, ‘I’m going to do the best I can to get something out of it.’ That was not the intent.” Regardless of her intent, it was because of Castillo’s unwavering devotion not only to the Marine Corps, but to her fellow brothers and sisters in arms that she will be awarded by Brig. Gen. Bobbi Shea. “It's ensuring that the victim at the end of the day gets the help that they need. Ensuring that, you know, he or she has that support, not only from their chain of command in the company but within the battalion.”