FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Angielina Villafane, Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program victim advocate coordinator supervisor, is no stranger to the military community.
Villafane grew up as a military “brat” and experienced the typical military lifestyle of frequent moves. Her dad served in Army for nearly 30 years and retired as a command sergeant major.
“I’ve been with the military all my life,” explained Villafane. “I love what the military stands for and growing up I loved the opportunity to travel the world. As an adult I appreciate the opportunities I had growing-up to experience other countries and areas in our own country. These experiences gave me a larger worldview that helps me to better understand others.”
Villafane began her own career with the federal government in 2013 working with the Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention office at Fort Meade, Maryland. From there she transferred to the Transition Assistance Program here, and eventually worked her way to the FAP as the victim advocate coordinator supervisor position in 2018.
True to the facts of living a military life, Villafane’s path to her current job was anything but easy.
“I can still remember my most difficult time,” recollected Villafane. “I had my two kids, was pregnant with my third, living in Fort Lewis, Washington. I was teaching first grade on post at the time while also working on my first master’s degree at night.”
“Then my mom got sick,” continued Villafane. “I had to fly out on emergency leave. At the time I was faced with the decision of do I continue with my master’s degree or do I drop out.”
Villafane continued to explain how this is one of several difficult situations that helped shape her into the person that she is today and allows her to better empathize with her staff and the people that come to her program for assistance.
“At that time, I had to look at myself and decide if I could make it,” explained Villafane. “I made the choice to keep pushing forward. It was one of the hardest times of my life, trying to manage all those balls in the air. It felt like things were spiraling out of control.”
The victim advocacy program sees people that are stretched to the max, or even at that moment of hitting rock bottom, said Villafane. The program helps them identify their priorities, what can wait until later, and what they need to push through to the end.
“It was hard when I was in the thick of it, but I was able to overcome it,” smiled Villafane. “Now on the other end, I can see that it was all worth it and I want to help others reach their goals too.”
Villafane oversees eight employees and three programs: the victim advocate program for domestic abuse, the transitional compensation program for the installation, and the problematic sexual behavior in children and youth program.
Along with overseeing these programs, Villafane also helps with fatality review boards, various other boards and partnerships with the community, and helps man Fort Bragg’s 24-hour Family abuse hotline, 910-322-3418.
“Seeing these cases each day can be really hard sometimes,” said Villafane. “But somebody must be there to help these Families. It can take upwards of seven tries before someone becomes able to leave an abusive relationship. But it might be that one time that matters, and we can help make that difference in someone’s life.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. During this month the program goes to extra efforts to highlight the issue and inform service members, Family members and civilians about the services available to help. For the civilians working these programs, it’s much more than just a once-a-year push, for them confronting family violence issues is a 24/7 job.
“At the end of every day, I believe that everyone should be able to live the best life that they can,” said Villafane. “Whatever that is for that person. It’s not for me to tell them, but I do get to help them get there.”
“Empathy is key and if what they’re going through matters to someone, it can make all the difference to them,” add Villafane. “It only takes one person to make a change and I’m proud every day to work with a team who cares and works together to make change.”
For more information on the Family Advocacy Program go to https://bragg.armymwr.com/programs/family-advocacy.