DOD Announces the Winners of the 33rd Annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Awards

By Chester Curtis, Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and ReadinesssDecember 21, 2023

The Department of Defense announced that U.S. Army Garrison West Point Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) was selected as the recipient of the 33rd Annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Award.

The Community Drug Awareness Award recognizes the best drug demand reduction program within each military service, the National Guard, Reserves, defense Agencies and DOD field activities. This year’s award nominations highlighted efforts aimed at preventing fentanyl misuse.

The award was established by the department in 1990 to promote its support of outreach and prevention programs within the DOD community. “This year’s award nominations highlighted efforts and actions aimed at preventing fentanyl misuse. Nominations were evaluated by the Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness on how fentanyl was addressed within their prevention activities,” says Tom Gilliard, DPRR deterrence program manager.

For the military services to win the award, they must adhere to the judging criteria, which include maximizing the use of DOD drug demand reduction 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.

During fiscal year 2023, West Point ASAP engaged in a robust awareness and educational campaign throughout the year on the West Point Garrison and in the surrounding community. The dangers of fentanyl misuse were emphasized at all events. The top three highlights of the year were:

•        Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31, 2022: The campaign used $2,100 in funding from drug demand reduction sources, benefiting one elementary school and two middle schools, and providing awareness to cadets, faculty and staff at the United States Military Academy.

“This positively impacted over 1,000 public school students, 4,400 cadets, and additional school staff and faculty,” says Col. Brian Jacobs, interim Garrison Commander. This also included the West Point Department of Defense Education Activity and the Highland Falls–Fort Montgomery Central School District.

•        Drugged, Drunk and Distracted Driving, or 3D, December 2022: ASAP conducted several activities during the month. A totaled car was displayed on post, with an electronic marquee emphasizing safe, drug- and distraction-free driving.

“The dangers of fentanyl misuse were addressed at this event,” says Jacobs. “ASAP also partnered with the local high school social worker and spent a day staffing a display and engaging with high school students on the 3D month theme.”

•        Highland Falls Family Fun Day, June 3, 2023: ASAP supported the Highland Falls Family Fun Day, held at Fickens Field, New York. ASAP set up a tent/display alongside the Orange County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council and the Highland Falls Community Coalition (a group ASAP participates in to address substance misuse in community schools).

Numerous individuals and families stopped by the tent to play the wheel game, receive promotional items and informational brochures, and discuss the dangers of substance misuse, to include fentanyl misuse, according to Jacobs. Over 500 people from the local community and West Point attended the event.

“Fentanyl abuse has taken a toll on the nation,” says Gilliard. “Taking care of people, including the prevention of misuse of prescription or illicit drugs, is a priority for the Army. The Drug Awareness Award is well-deserved for the USAG West Point Army Substance Abuse Program.