FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Oct. 22, 2019) -- Lawton Mayor Stan Booker said children have the right to grow up drug free, and that message is a yearlong lesson.

Booker was the guest speaker as Fort Sill kicked off its 38th Annual Red Ribbon Week Oct. 22, at Freedom Elementary School.

The student body, teachers and administrators, parents and post leaders packed the auditorium to see a wreath unveiling, proclamation signing, to hear songs, and to recognize students' posters and essays. The post campaign runs Oct. 22-31.

Booker and Col. Don King, Fort Sill Garrison commander, signed a City of Lawton proclamation symbolizing the partnership between Lawton and Fort Sill to create a drug-free environment.

"Local government leaders know that the support of the communities is the most effective tool that they can have to reduce use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs," said Booker, as he read the proclamation.

King recognized the parents and family caregivers.

"There is a lot of care and assistance to inspire our youth and you set the standard," King said.

During the ceremony, children with award winning anti-drug posters and essays were presented Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill certificates of achievement. Booker, King and Fort Sill Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Russell Blackwell presented the certificates.

Janice Carter, Fort Sill Army Substance Abuse Program Prevention Branch chief, said it's important to get the anti-drug message to young children.

"The younger they start getting the message, the less likely they are to be part of drug activities as they get older," she said.

She added that positive role models are important to children.

"Statistics show that 42 percent of students who had a trusted adult talk to them about the consequences of drugs are less likely to partake in drug use," Carter said.

ASAP staff began putting up red ribbons Oct. 17, around the installation, including the gates, at Polo Field, and at the ASAP building, Carter said.

The traffic on Interstate 44 can see Fort Sill's commitment to a drug-free community, she said.