Ohio National Guard News


Celebrating Red Ribbon Week Oct. 23-31:

Ohio National Guard Counterdrug Task Force supports Red Ribbon Campaign event in Delaware

Story and photos by Sgt. Andrew Kuhn, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Close up of Air guard member handing ribbons to participants.

Members of the Ohio National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force partner with the Drug-Free Delaware Coalition to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention during a Delaware County First Friday event, Oct. 6, 2017, in Delaware, Ohio. Each year the Counterdrug Task Force hands out red ribbons, which honor Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena and are a symbol of the commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. For more information about the National Red Ribbon Campaign, visit redribbon.org.

Children throwing basketballs in game with guard memebr watching. Guard member hands ribbons to youth particippants.
Guard members running shoe-shaped hoops game. Guard members running shoe-shaped hoops game.
Guard members running inflatable shoe-shaped basketball hoops game. Guard member competing alongside boy in inflatable shoe-shaped basketball hoops game.

Red ribbon campaign logoDELAWARE, Ohio (10/23/17) —Members of the Ohio National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force partnered with the Drug-Free Delaware Coalition Oct. 6 to educate youth and encourage participation in drug-free lifestyles during a Delaware County First Friday event.

Each year the ONG Counterdrug Task Force (CDTF) distributes red ribbons in conjunction with the annual National Red Ribbon Campaign. According to a National Family Partnership website, the Red Ribbon Campaign honors U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena, who was kidnaped, tortured and murdered by drug traffickers in 1985. After his death, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing red ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the death and devastation caused by drugs in America.

Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon Campaign has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. Red Ribbon Week is celebrated over the last full week of October each year, and events are generally held throughout the month of October to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal drugs and misuse of prescription drugs.

“Our Red Ribbon Rally event provides red ribbons and drug prevention information to the community and aims to provide a good time for the families,” said Jean Bednar, project coordinator for the Drug-Free Delaware Coalition. “We are remembering Red Ribbon Week with this First Friday event; it is a great opportunity to get our drug-free message out.”

To bring awareness to their role in drug prevention within the community, the CDTF invited attendees to stop by their booth and challenge one another on the inflatable basketball toss, as well as receive handouts such as red ribbons, pamphlets and souvenirs.

“The awareness events that the CDTF supports throughout the year gives children, parents and the community an opportunity to interact with service members, while also being reminded about the importance of living a healthy, drug-free life,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Monica Patton, civil operations program manager with the CDTF.

Members of the CDTF promote the Red Ribbon Campaign at schools and community events across the state throughout the month of October.

“Through the Red Ribbon Campaign, we ask that these students, faculty, parents and community members not only celebrate and support Red Ribbon Week, but more importantly choose to live a Red Ribbon lifestyle, day in and day out,” Patton said.
According to Bednar, her organization’s collaboration with the CDTF is very important. Drugs are a nationwide problem and the collaboration with the CDTF is crucial to maintaining a united front in addressing drug abuse in Ohio.

“The task force has always been there to support us and provide us with resources,” Bednar said. “This year, they provided us with 6,000 red ribbons to distribute throughout the schools of Delaware County.”

The CDTF supports law enforcement and community-based organizations at all levels of government, to anticipate, deter and defeat the threat of drugs in order to protect society.

“Specifically, the Civil Operations Program facilitates partnerships and participation within Ohio communities,” Patton said. “By applying unique, military experience and training, we are able to strategically link community-based organizations and law enforcement agencies in an effort to create change within our communities.”

In the last couple of years, the CDTF has had an increased role in the partnership with the DEA for the National Take Back Initiative, commonly known as the DEA Prescription Drug Take Back, held biannually.

In April 2017, the CDTF assisted in the destruction of almost 9,000 pounds of prescription drugs collected throughout Ohio during the Prescription Drug Take Back, and they are assisting again this October by providing transportation support across the state.

The Ohio National Guard does not just assist with drug take back transportation, but also recently provided aerial support via two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to the DEA and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) for their marijuana eradication mission.

“First of the 137th Aviation Regiment pilots were tasked with providing approximately 100 flight hours to support the DEA and BCI,” Patton said. “They recognize we are able to bring unique skills and equipment to assist in the overall war on drugs.”

The National Guard’s connection to the community is truly unique and allows programs supported by the CDTF to thrive. It is important for members of the community to know that there are National Guard Soldiers and Airmen living and working among them, and that they are just as invested in the success of eliminating drug abuse in Ohio.

“I just want to really thank the Ohio National Guard for their support,” Bednar said. “It’s a community working together to get the drug-free message out there, and these kids had a ball.”

For more information on how you can be part of the solution and help support children’s positive, healthy choices, please visit the Start Talking! website to sign up for KNOW! Parent Tips.

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