By Spc. Emily KnitterOctober 26, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Pink ribbons, yellow ribbons, blue ribbons, they all stand for something. Things that have drastically affected people's lives and possibly changed histories. Yet after a while they start to blend together. I see them on bumpers of cars or pinned to sweaters and it barely even registers in my mind. Am I proud of that? No. But, I tell myself: there is just so much else I think about on a daily basis that some things have to fall to the wayside, especially when they don't seem to affect me personally.
October 23 through 31 is Red Ribbon Week. Normally, such weeks pass by without much notice from me, but this one actually has a personal connection. If you're a Soldier, it is closer to home than you may think.
Red Ribbon Week is an awareness campaign highlighting the prevention, early intervention, treatment programs and services offered to fight the use of illegal drugs, and (here's the kicker) the use of legal drugs illegally.
It's not D.A.R.E., it won't ask you to write a paper about the horrors of drugs. It won't ask you to sign a pledge that says you'll never be a statistic. All Red Ribbon Week aims to accomplish is to raise awareness of ways to get help, or give you more reasons not to start- besides the loss of your military career.
Drug use isn't classified only as getting high on cocaine or marijuana. Especially for Soldiers, intolerable drug use can be something as innocent as using prescription drugs six months after they are issued to you.
That shoulder injury you had half-a-year ago that's still giving you problems? Those misused drugs could get you kicked out of the Army now.
A message issued by the surgeon general, Feb. 23, made a change to Army Medical Command regulation 40-51, announcing the deadline on prescription drugs six months after the issuance date. It may seem minor, but that surprise urinalysis one morning could be the end of life as you know it.
Details like that are what Red Ribbon Week is all about. Of course it focuses on the major illegal drugs, but for most average people I'd go out on a limb and say that that isn't a daily worry for you. But that seemingly innocent, yellow prescription bottle sitting in your medicine cabinet could be the silent but deadly end to your career.
So, do yourself a favor and Google some of the little trip-ups in Army regulations involving medications and drugs. Keep your life going in the direction you want, and actually pay recognition to one of those colored ribbons we see every day.
As we pay a little more attention to the meaning and effect of Red Ribbon Week topics on our lives, there is another awareness campaign Fort Stewart itself is pushing.
If you live or work on base, no doubt you have seen the "*Blank* days since our last fatal accident," sign flashing by the checkpoints, and the blue ribbons tied to vehicles' radio antennas.
The Marne Pledge is a focus on drinking and driving by Dog-Face Soldiers. Many units received physical, paper pledges to distribute to the Soldiers to sign, expressing their intent a little more concretely to never get behind the wheel while under the influence.
It may seem like a small thing, having everyone sign a paper and tie ribbons on their vehicles, but the 'safe days' counter is currently in the 80-day range. Solid proof something is going right.
So as you go about your day, and see the blue ribbons fluttering in the wind, or a red ribbon on someone's shirt, take a second to think about how those affect you. Those few seconds may be all it takes to save your career, or even your life.