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Fort Campbell ready for Red Ribbon Week

by Leejay Lockhart Courier staff

Fort Campbell Courier
Fort Campbell | October 26, 2016

Fort Campbell will host several activities for Red Ribbon Week, which begins Sunday and lasts until Oct. 31.

The theme of this year’s campaign is YOLO #YOUONLYLIVEONCE.  Be Drug Free. Wearing a red ribbon or red article of clothing will show support for the campaign.

All of the events will focus on bringing awareness to the community about the benefits of being drug free. Red Ribbon Week originated as a response to the murder of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Agency special agent, by drug traffickers while he was doing undercover work in Mexico. People in his hometown of Calexico, California, wore and displayed red ribbons to honor Camarena. The practice of wearing red ribbons as a symbol of drug prevention efforts spread nationwide and the first national Red Ribbon Week took place in 1988.

Karen Milner, Fort Campbell’s Army Substance Abuse Program manager, says this year’s Red Ribbon Week will be more robust than last year.

“We bought banners for every school that they can hang up and kids write their name with a marker and pledge to be drug free so it’s the awareness part of it,” Milner said. “We also have some awareness banners that tell the story of ‘Kiki’ and we’re going to place those strategically around [post] like at the Soldier Support Center and education center.”

Since drug abuse is incompatible with both a healthy lifestyle and serving in the military, Red Ribbon Week is a chance for ASAP and other organizations on post to put extra emphasis to the message of living a productive, drug free life. Fort Campbell schools will each be hosting multiple events throughout the week, there will be social media activities promoting involvement as well as other events happening across post such as information booths at the Exchange and the post mini-malls supporting Red Ribbon Week.

“It is bringing awareness [about drug abuse prevention],” Milner said. “Although drugs are an issue year-round this is an opportunity for us to highlight the importance of being drug free.”

Fort Campbell schools are highly involved in Red Ribbon Week. Parents will receive brochures and students will receive tokens to remind them to be drug free.

“Red Ribbon Week is the longest national drug awareness campaign in the United States,” Milner said. “Red Ribbon Week is really focused on youth, but we do incorporate the Soldiers and Families and the entire community if possible. So we even do activities off post if a school lets us come in and talk to the kids.”

Fort Campbell High School will have two dress-up themed days during the week. Students will wear their favorite sports jerseys as part of “team up against drugs” and students will wear red to show their support during wear red day. The students are also sharing drug facts and simulating the loss of students to drug abuse. Other events at FCHS included students trying to walk a straight line while wearing goggles to simulate being drunk, playing games for prizes and painting slogans on the school’s windows.

The elementary schools on Fort Campbell also have many activities planned for their students. Some of the most visible ways of participating is through all of the themed dress-up days. Schools plan on having Red Ribbon Day, where students wear red. Students at Barkley Elementary School also can also participate in Crazy Hair and Crazy Hat Day and students at Andre Lucas Elementary will wear red, white and blue to for “Elect to be Drug Free” day on Friday. Students at both schools will wear camouflage to “Be all You Can Be; Be Drug Free!” day.

On Monday ASAP will have conversation starters posted at the top of their Facebook page. This is the first time ASAP has used social media to help broach the subject of talking to loved one about drug abuse as part of Red Ribbon Week. “So it’s hard for parents or guardians or Families or whomever to bring up the topic of drugs and how not to get involved with drugs and what we like to do is just give them that starting point to help them,” Milner said. “When people struggle with how do I say or what do I say, we’re just going to give them ways to start that conversation.”

It’s not just during Red Ribbon Week that ASAP focuses on preventing drug abuse and promoting a drug free lifestyle. Milner and the other ASAP employees attend health fairs and Eagle Challenge Fitness Tour events  to put out information to Soldiers and Families to help them talk about drug abuse, provide resources on getting help, as well as support units and commanders with their drug prevention efforts.

Their past efforts enabled Fort Campbell to win the 24th Annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Award.

“We provide opportunities for Families to get their hands on information that they might or might not have available to them,” Milner said. “You hope that you instill in children at a young age the importance of being drug free and how it can affect your health and your lifestyle. … It’s not easy to talk about drugs and drug abuse with anybody. So we want to help [parents] be more comfortable with what to ask, what to say and what to look for.”

Visit for more information and to participate in the “Start the Conversation” program.

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