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DoD Gets White House Recognition For Anti-Drug Programs

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2006 – The White House’s “drug czar” recognized the Defense Department for its anti-drug efforts at a Pentagon awards ceremony today.

Director of National Drug Control Policy John P. Walters presented the Director’s Distinguished Service Award to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, who accepted the honor on behalf of DoD.

DoD’s anti-drug programs strongly support President Bush’s national drug control strategies, Walters said, noting that overall youth drug use in America has declined about 19 percent over the past four years.

England thanked Walters for the recognition. He also addressed department civilians and servicemembers at the event who were to receive DoD anti-drug awards. Since 1990, DoD has managed an awards program in conjunction with national Red Ribbon Week that encourages servicemembers and local communities to be drug-free and to recognize outstanding DoD outreach programs.

Their recognition, England told the awardees, is due to “your success, your vigilance and your integrity.”

More than 30 years ago, drug problems were rife among the post-Vietnam-era military, England recalled. DoD declared war against drugs because “it is a national security issue,” he said.

“We don’t have that problem today,” England said, “because people have worked very hard to make sure we don’t have that problem.” Strengthened anti-drug education programs and increased testing have greatly reduced the incidence of drug use within the ranks over the years, he said.

In fact, drug use within the military has dropped more than 92 percent since the height of the drug culture in the 1970s.

England also presented the annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awards, which recognize superior anti-drug programs among the military services. The awardees for 2006 are:

-- Army Substance Abuse Program, Headquarters, 3rd Corps and Fort Hood, Texas;

-- Camp Pendleton Drug Demand Reduction Campaign, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.;

-- Drug Demand Reduction Program, Naval Submarine Base, King’s Bay, Ga.;

-- Drug Demand Reduction Program, 15th Airlift Wing, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii;

-- Drug Demand Reduction Program, New Jersey National Guard; and

-- Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Supply Center, Columbus, Ohio.

England thanked the DoD award recipients, noting they’ve “shown particular leadership in reaching out to their local communities and encouraging others to lead successful, drug-free lives.”

The deputy defense secretary also extended his “very deep appreciation and congratulations” to the Laurel Bay Youth Center at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. The air station received its second consecutive Secretary of Defense Fulcrum Shield Award for the best military-affiliated youth outreach program in the country.

Marine Lt. Col. Troy A. Ward, executive officer for Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, accepted the Fulcrum Award for his installation. Ward said military and civilians at Laurel Bay, the base’s military family housing area, share anti-drug education programs with local schools and city of Beaufort and county youth agencies.

“Peer-to-peer outreach is where we are the most successful,” Ward said, noting that youth drug use in his area is going down significantly.

Event host Thomas W. O’Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, said he is continually impressed by the successful anti-drug efforts managed by the service branches and DoD agencies.

Achieving a drug-free Defense Department and society is all about changing behavior, England said. Nothing is more important to U.S. national security than to have strong local communities and a correspondingly strong society, he said.

“That means keeping them drug free,” England said.

Red Ribbon Week originated as a tribute to Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” S. Carmarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug traffickers in Guadalajara, Mexico, killed Carmarena in 1985.

Afterward, people in Carmarena’s hometown of Calexico, Calif., wore red ribbons to honor his sacrifice. DoD began its participation in Red Ribbon Week in 1990. Red Ribbon week is observed today through Oct. 31.

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Gordon England

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