Over the past many years, the United States military has maintained a strong presence around the world. Many military personnel are enlisted in the reserve and guard portion of our military branches. These individuals train and prepare themselves for future deployment yet maintain careers and jobs between training. Oftentimes, help is needed to sustain working relationships between service members and their employers.
Espiridion “Speedy” Castillo of Victoria is a true unsung hero. At sixty-four years of age, Castillo’s job is as liaison and he manages the relationships between the military and their employers. Castillo is retired from Dupont and the Army Reserve but although he is retired, Castillo is one busy man. For five years he worked with the Communities in Schools Program at Stroman Middle School. But to keep himself busy after retirement, Castillo volunteered with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and has been working with them for the past seven years. The ESGR is a volunteer led Department of Defense program. With the state being divided into sixteen different areas, Castillo is the Chair Person for Area 11 which includes everything from Victoria to Kingsville. The area encompasses thirteen counties and over 725 service members from all military branches and over 500 employers as well as colleges and universities. Castillo’s job involves talking to the service members about their responsibilities to their employers. At the same time, Castillo does employer training where they discuss the rights and responsibilities that the employers have to the service personnel in their employment under the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Employers are recognized and awarded for exemplary service to a service member. Service members can nominate their employer for various awards from local to state and national levels. Castillo’s job is to go to these different units and talk to the troops to make sure they know what their rights and responsibilities are such as notifying their employer of training or deployment, giving advance notice, supplying the employer with their yearly training schedule, etc. Proper preparation by the service member prevents the employer from being place at a disadvantage when service members are absent from their jobs for training or deployment. There is a lot involved in Castillo’s job with ESGR. “I get calls from spouses, I get calls from the commanders, the troops themselves and ask me questions. To keep up with that many troops in this area, that’s a lot.” States Castillo. “A lot of contacts, a lot of phone calls…we have employer days where we talk to the units and have them bring their employer in for the day. Let them see what they do so that they (the employer) can understand…it’s a lot of knowing what the individual units do; how to display them so that the employers are more familiar and willing to say go ahead and go. It is also a chance for employers to meet the families…It is a matter of getting them involved with each other.”
All of the time that Castillo spends with ESGR is volunteered. Several of his weekends each month are spent with the units from all military branches. During the week he may be making arrangements to get with employers to present awards for outstanding service they have displayed for their military employees. Castillo, for the most part, is doing this job without much help. Volunteers are needed to help with the massive job and they do not have to have prior military experience to volunteer. A great deal of expansion is in the planning stages for the guard and the reserve in Castillo’s area, so volunteers are needed. There is a lot of work to do.
Castillo says that he likes to stay busy because it keeps his mind active. This volunteer job with ESGR is definitely accomplishing that goal and he plans to work with the ESGR as long as he can. When he is not busy with ESGR he likes to work around the house and help the local guard and the community when they have events. Castillo has been married for 40 years to his lovely wife Isabel and they four children and eleven grandchildren.