Investing in Future at Reno Conference
By JO2 Paul Noel
DEFY Public Affairs
RENO, Nev. (NWS) More than 115 Navy, Marine Corps and Air
Force personnel recently gathered at Reno, Nev., to achieve a common
goal making strong kids for strong families, for a ready
The military and civilian members are part of the Secretary of
the Navy's Drug Education For Youth (DEFY) program. Military and
civilian personnel traveled from sites around the world to learn
new ways of keeping children entertained and educated during the
program's week-long youth camps, which are followed by a year of
They reviewed classroom materials for the 20 hours of instruction
they will give to the children, and played some of the same "team
building" games that the youth will learn.
"The program is an ideal example of what is possible when
people unite for a worthwhile cause, with unmasked energy, and most
importantly, a strong commitment to make a difference in the lives
of our young people," said Charles Tompkins, former deputy
assistant secretary of the Navy, manpower and Reserve affairs (personnel
Commander Bill Correllus, who also spoke at the conference, is
currently filling that position in an acting capacity. Correllus
said by being involved with DEFY, those at the conference were serving
their country in a dual position.
"I have the highest regard for what they're doing," Correllus
praised. "They're doing their job in the military, and doing
this as a collateral duty." Chief Hospital Corpsman Anthony
Zilar, a training and operations coordinator for the DEFY camp at
Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Wash., said he has seen the results
of the program first-hand. "It teaches kids how to resolve
conflict and how to go about making choices to stay away from drugs."
Zilar has seen many of his DEFY graduates complete high school,
some at the top of their class in the six years he has been involved
with the program. "I'll continue with the DEFY program throughout
my enlistment," Zilar added. Commander Ben Pancho, DEFY director,
said the professionalism and passion displayed by all those involved
with the program was commendable. Like all the DEFY staff, Pancho
is a Reservist on "Active Duty for Special Work," and
is a civilian educator.
"I wish there were more educators that have the same passion
that each of you have," Pancho told the group. Correllus said
many outreach programs often receive minimal funding, and DEFY has
freed itself from the chopping block twice in the past several years.
"DEFY is what makes America strong for the future, and I think
that is what makes it so important," Correllus said, adding
that a five-year budget was approved last year, which will allow
for some growth in the near future. "Now it's on the right
course. I feel really good about seeing the benefit and seeing the
possibilities of a program like this. Some of these kids will become
leaders and scholars. Who knows what else they'll become."
Last year, the Air Force joined ranks with DEFY and now has 12
camps worldwide. Air Force Demand Reduction Outreach coordinator
Dr. Milton Cambridge said he sees a lot of potential with the program.
"Addiction is a relapsing illness and the key period of drug
experimentation is among 9- to 12-year-olds," Cambridge said.
"The DEFY program is pitched at the right level."
Cambridge said he hopes to have the DEFY program grow in the Air
Force at a rate of five bases a year. Since its beginning in 1993,
more than 20,000 youths have graduated from DEFY.
More information about the DEFY program can be found at http://www.hq.navy.mil/defy.