ARLINGTON, Va. – The Department of Defense recently announced the winners of the 32nd Annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Awards.

The Fort Hood, Army Substance Abuse Program was selected as the Army’s winner, and the Florida National Guard, Counterdrug Program Drug Demand Reduction Outreach was selected as the National Guard winner.

The award was established by the department in 1990 in an effort to promote its support of outreach and prevention programs within the DoD community.

For the Military Services to win the award they must adhere to the judging criteria, which includes, maximizing the use of DoD reductions assets to effectively reach the targeted audience, documented participation in Red Ribbon Week observances and program impacts as determined by some observable and measurable events such as number of personnel supported by the programs.

Fort Hood

In fiscal year 2021, the Fort Hood ASAP program offered services to approximately 36,169 active-duty Soldiers, 12,880 deploying Reservists, 4,743 Army civilian employees and 416,763 retirees, survivors, and their Family members.

“With a day-to-day on post population of approximately 61,416 Soldiers, Family members and civilian employees, the ASAP program is a professional, multidimensional, and flexible organization capable of meeting the needs of our diverse community, said Col. Chad Foster, Fort Hood garrison commander.

For fiscal year 2021, the Fort Hood ASAP program drug deterrence funding was used to increase their biochemical testing operations to meet the directive of the installation commanders. They purchased enough testing supplies to support 463 unit commanders, this enabled them the ability to conduct 116,923 urinalysis deterrence tests.

“As a result of our strategy and their drug deterrence efforts, they were able to identify and hold accountable 1,182 Soldiers for illegal drug abuse, aided 264 Soldiers to clear their record, and assisted in the rehabilitation and treatment of 549 Soldiers through rehabilitation testing,” said Foster.

Fort Hood incorporated their local community into their 2021 Red Ribbon Week events. They partnered with several local area elementary, middle, and high schools to provide a wide-variety of targeted and age-appropriate prevention activities.

“Fort Hood’s unique mission and role as a major staging platform for continuous unit rotations and its emphasis on safety and readiness, demands an ASAP program that is versatile and staffed by experts who are totally dedicated to serving Soldiers, Families, Army civilians and its surrounding communities with the best prevention tools available, said Foster.

Florida National Guard

The FLNG DDRO collaborated with the National Guard Bureau, the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center, the Community Coalition Alliance, and the Arizona DDRO program to plan and execute four Substance Misuse Prevention Skills Training courses and one abbreviated substance misuse and current drug trends course.

For Red Ribbon Week, DDRO partnered with the Florida Department of Education, community-based organizations, law enforcement agencies, and treatment providers to administer anti-drug awareness presentations to Florida’s students. The presentation, entitled “Night Vision,” outlined the dangers associated with the five gateway drugs (alcohol, tobacco/vaping, marijuana, prescription pills, and synthetics) and highlights how these substances can lead to a substance use disorder.

Also, FLNG DDRO partnered with the Florida Governor’s Drug Policy Advisory Council (DPAC) to develop recommendations for substance use prevention, treatment, and law enforcement policy. DDRO’s five policy recommendations, endorsed by Florida’s State Surgeon General, aligned with the 2020 National Drug Control Strategy. DPAC selected DDRO’s recommendations for publication in the Statewide DPAC 2021 Annual Report. The Florida Governor, the President of the Florida Senate, and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives all received the final report for their consideration. The recommendations submitted to the state leadership are:

·      Develop & implement a substance use prevention strategy designed to reduce substance use among youth.

·      Deploy an evidence-based substance use prevention program intended to reduce drug use among youth.

·      Establish medical marijuana advertisement standards that restrict the advertising methods of medical marijuana/cannabis evaluation clinics, conveyance shops, and other services or businesses not currently governed by Amendment 2.

·      Develop and implement a stigma reduction campaign crafted to reduce the shame associated with substance use disorders and mental illness.

·      Establish legislation to regulate the preparation, distribution, sale, compliance, and penalties for violations of Kratom-based product.

The FLNG DDRO collaborated with other agencies within Florida to protect communities and educate them on the negative effects of drugs. The U.S. Department of Justice, Miami Division along with the Prevention Coalition of St. Johns County submitted recommendation letters on behalf of DDRO in support of their nomination for the Annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Awards.

“DDRO has proven itself to be a valuable partner at combatting the illicit use of drugs in Florida through various prevention efforts,” said Deanne Reuter, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Justice, Miami Division. “The DDRO program consistently bridges communication gaps across multiple prevention efforts to exude the mantra of one team, one fight.”

“Prevention Coalition has gone through significant changes in the past couple of years, and if it wasn’t for the support of the DDRO, it very well could have been our agency that failed,” said Susan Jackson, Prevention Coalition of St. Johns County executive director. “As the new executive director of an agency that was tentative at best, their support, expertise, and guidance has helped turn this agency from a small agency that was expected to die on the vine, to a viable growing agency that is gaining in momentum and capacity.”

“The past two years have had a trying effect on the Nation,” said Tom Gillard, ARD ASAP program manager.  “Alcohol and substance abuse/misuse has had an adverse effect on individuals trying to cope. the Florida National Guard and Fort Hood have stepped up and provided education and training to their communities to ensure information, support and program services were readily available, if needed.”

The winning organizations will be recognized at the Red Ribbon Awards Ceremony being held Oct. 13, at the Pentagon.