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Military Communities Recognized for Anti-Drug Efforts

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2000 – Five military communities will be recognized for their exemplary anti-drug awareness and education programs at an Oct. 23 Pentagon ceremony.

Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Bernard Rostker is slated to present Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Awards kicking off this year's DoD Red Ribbon Week (Oct. 23-25) activities.

Red Ribbon Week is a national program of anti-drug education and drug abuse awareness sponsored by the National Family Partnership, said Ana Maria Salazar. Salazar is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for drug enforcement policy and support. Her office assists law enforcement agencies in the war against drugs.

"I take very seriously my role to combat drug abuse in our nation and the Red Ribbon Week Observance is one of the measures to accomplish this," Salazar said. "The Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Award recognizes outstanding DoD drug awareness programs, many having service members who volunteer to serve as educators and role models for our youth.

"DoD must encourage its members to become active in drug education and community support," she added.

This year's awardees include:

  • U.S. Army, Community Substance Abuse Prevention Center, Headquarters, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) and Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.
  • U.S. Naval Air Station, Integrated Anti-Drug Program, Keflavik, Iceland.
  • U.S. Air Force Drug Demand Reduction Program, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.
  • U.S. Marine Corps Substance Abuse Counseling Center, Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan.
  • National Guard Bureau, Wisconsin National Guard Drug Control Program.

Salazar noted that the community drug awareness award program was created 10 years ago to encourage service- member involvement in keeping communities drug-free and to recognize outstanding outreach programs.

"Recognizing outstanding DoD drug awareness programs encourages excellence and continued volunteer efforts," she said.

The three-day DoD Red Ribbon Week activities at the Pentagon will also feature anti-drug education and information booths and displays, celebrity speakers, and Civil Air Patrol Drill Team demonstrations.

The annual nationwide Red Ribbon campaign originated from the sacrifice of a dedicated federal law enforcement official. U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" S. Camarena was murdered in 1985 by drug traffickers in Guadalajara, Mexico, outraging many in his hometown of Calexico, Calif. Camarena's friends and supporters wore red ribbons to honor his memory and signify his courage and dedication in the fight against drugs.

The Red Ribbon's anti-drug message was taken up by the National Family Partnership as an annual nationwide campaign in 1988. DoD joined the effort in 1990, launching its first Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Award.

Salazar noted that Red Ribbon Week is an opportunity for citizens to "pause during one week of the year, ... and focus on the consequences of drug abuse and on what they can do to combat it."

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