Local youth organization heads to Washington, DC for national recognition

(Seguin) — The local Guadalupe Valley Young Marines unit is in the process of being recognized at the Pentagon.

The United States Department of Defense chose the Guadalupe Valley Young Marines as the winner of one of its elite awards. The local youth organization has been selected as the winner of the Secretary of Defense’s Fulcrum Shield 2022 award.

Photo courtesy Dina Dillon

Excited to hear the news, Unit Commander Dina Dillon. Dillon says this is the first time the Young Marines have won the prestigious award. She says the local unit’s efforts have risen to the top of the list – ahead of hundreds and hundreds of other similar organizations across the country.

“We expect all 253 Young Marines units in the United States to do a set of what we did for Red Ribbon Week. I’ve been doing this for several years now to show footage and show exactly what kind of things we’ve done and how we’ve impacted the community. For example, here in Seguin, we were able to convince the mayor to light the water tower red and make ribbons downtown, Central Park, with a notification explaining exactly why we did it for the Week red ribbon. From there, we put together a package. We send it to our head office. Our headquarters receives all the packages and they review and choose only three to submit to the Ministry of Defense. At the Department of Defense, they are currently reviewing and reviewing Sea Cadets, Civilian Air Patrols, ROTC programs across the country, and these three Young Marines program packages. From there, only one is chosen and this year, we were chosen.

Dillon says that although the local youth organization has always received national recognition, this award is definitely at the top of the list.

“It’s unbelievable how excited I am because it shows that this little town of Seguin, the little unit of Guadalupe Valley – that we’re making an impact and being seen for it. Over the past few years, bands The Young Marines program, itself, has had a unit chosen for the past 12 years and so it’s amazing that our program as a whole has been chosen so many times, but that Seguin is chosen , it’s just amazing for our program,” Dillon said.

Dina says that while the COVID pandemic has impacted its membership numbers, the group hasn’t stopped making a difference and continues to improve lives.

“We built and built and built. You start by trying to talk to the school for now what we’ve done this year this will be our third year working with the American Legion bikers and run a real motorcycle race and it’s in honor of Kiki Camarena – that’s what Red Ribbon Week was started for and so it’s the Kiki Camarena Run, Ride to Be Drug Free. This will be the third year and it works with all of our veterans organizations here in town. They help us. Throughout the year we help them and they’ve come to us — helping us with our annual fundraiser which we’ve handed this over to and it’s fun for them, fun for us,” Dillon said.

Four winners were announced as part of the Secretary of Defense’s 32nd Annual Community Drug Awareness Awards, while one winner – young marines from the Guadalupe Valley here in Seguin, was once again the only Fulcrum Shield award recipient.

Among the 2022 Department of Defense Red Ribbon Award winners are the U.S. Army and its Army Drug Abuse Program at Garrison Ft. Capot; the Marine Corps and its drug demand reduction program at Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, San Diego; the United States Air Force and its Drug Demand Reduction Program at 19th Airlift Wing Headquarters, Little Rock and the National Guard and its National Guard Drug Enforcement Program of Florida.

As part of the honor, representatives from the local Guadalupe Valley Young Marines unit will be honored Oct. 13 in the Hall of Heroes located at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.