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FORT CAMPBELL ASAP: Fight substance abuse during Red Ribbon Week

Michele Vowell Fort Campbell Courier

Fort Campbell Courier
Fort Campbell | October 19, 2017

The average age when kids first try alcohol is 11 years for boys and 13 years of age for girls. The three leading causes of death for 15 to 24 year olds are automobile crashes, homicides and suicides. Alcohol is a leading factor in all three, according to Fort Campbell Army Substance Abuse Program literature.

In the fight against substance abuse, Fort Campbell ASAP is encouraging the community to stand united and participate in the 28th annual National Red Ribbon Week, which starts Monday.

This year’s theme is “Your Future is Key, So Stay Drug Free.”

“Drug [and alcohol] abuse [are] incompatible with service in the Army, and incompatible with a productive and healthy life. The Fort Campbell community must communicate that we, individually and as a community, will not tolerate the use and abuse of drugs [or alcohol],” wrote Karen Milner, Fort Campbell Army Substance Abuse Program officer, in a  Red Ribbon Week column (See Page A2).

Red Ribbon Week started in 1988 in honor of the late Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

On Feb. 7, 1985, the 37-year-old left his office to meet his wife for lunch when five men appeared at the agent’s side and shoved him in a car. One month later, Camarena’s body was found. He had been tortured to death.

Family and friends began wearing red ribbons in honor of Camarena, who once told his mother, “I am only one person, but I want to make a difference.” The National Family Partnership organized the first National Red Ribbon Campaign to symbolically carry on Camarena’s battle against illegal drugs.

Fort Campbell ASAP specialists encourage Soldiers, Family members and Department of the Army civilians living on and working at Fort Campbell and surrounding civilian communities to “show solidarity toward drug-free community and nurture the value of life message” in this campaign.

“One person can make a difference,” said Staci Scarcello, ASAP specialist. “You can save the world one person at a time. That’s what I always say.”

Fort Campbell’s Red Ribbon campaign will include information tables at The Exchange and post mini-malls, distribution of posters and pamphlets, multiple activities at Department of Defense Education Association schools and presentations to Child and Youth Services youth. Parents will be given informational brochures, and children will be given small tokens with drug-free logos.

“It brings focus on something that’s very important one week out of the year. You just don’t want it to last only one week,” said Matthew Younger, ASAP prevention branch chief.

On Monday, parents are encouraged to talk with their child before or after school to discuss the benefits of a drug-free life. Younger said a child’s drug and alcohol education should start young.

“You teach them young to not touch the stove,” he said. “Red Ribbon Week is about starting young – teaching kids … drugs can cause harm to you. They are not good for you … Hopefully as kids get older that takes precedent over peer pressure.”

To help parents prepare for this discussion, ASAP specialists will set up tables at The Exchange from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. each day next week with drug education literature.

“If you need a conversation starter on how to talk to kids about drugs, we have the information to do that,” Younger said. “They don’t have to talk to us for hours … We’re here to help them.”

Younger said the information booths also are available to anyone with questions.

“We just really want to talk with people and get a conversation going. If they have questions, we can answer questions for them,” he said. “We try to tailor the information we hand out.”

Fort Campbell ASAP will also offer drug and alcohol training to military units at unit locations or their office, 2553 23rd St., starting Monday through Oct. 31.

“Our ASAP specialists virtually embedded with all of the units. We provide all the training,” Younger said. “We do all of the data analysis for high-risk behaviors. We try to give interventions and training to help mitigate the high-risk behaviors. If you look at all the high-risk behaviors that we track, every one of them has a certain percentage of alcohol and drugs involved.”

Although marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the U.S., Younger said other drug concerns are prescribed medications, such as Ritalin and OxyContin, over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep and diet medication and the use of inhalants, known as “huffing,” “sniffing” and “wanging.” Many of these can be found in a Family’s medicine cabinet.

For parents who have expired or unused prescription drugs, medications can be safely disposed of on post at the Town Center Pharmacy, 98 Michigan Ave., and the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital main hospital pharmacy.

Also as part of the observance, ASAP specialist will bring peddle carts and beer goggles to Taylor Youth Center at 1:45 p.m. Oct. 30 for students to see the effects of driving impaired.

“We are going to read the pledge and have them sign the pledge – to be drug-free – and give informational [pamphlets] out to the parents,” Scarcello said.

Getting educated

DoDEA schools across the Army, including Fort Campbell, will observe Red Ribbon Week with several fun and educational activities.

“The on-post schools really try to go out of their way to be something special for the kids,” Younger said.

Scarcello said ASAP provides schools with red ribbons for students and lapel pins for teachers and staff members to wear during the campaign.

“We also give goodies away so they can make prize packs. The schools have a lot of activities that they do,” she said.

Mary Hunter, elementary guidance counselor at Marshall Elementary School, said she and guidance counselor Angie Sholar prepared a week of activities designed “to promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.”

“We’re doing guidance lessons on being drug- and alcohol-free, protecting your bodies from the hazards of drugs and alcohol,” she said. “Red Ribbon Week, we do it every year … the concept behind that is that we want to raise a healthy society of kids. We want them to know per academic level how drugs and alcohol can negatively affect you; the skills of how to say now; how to protect yourself and walk away from it; how to identify the risk hazards and how to talk to someone if you know someone who needs help.”

Each day of Red Ribbon Week has a theme. At Marshall, for example, students, faculty and staff may wear crazy socks on Tuesday to “Sock it to Drugs,” and wear Army-centric camouflage on Oct. 27 for the theme, “Don’t Let Drugs Sneak Up on You.” Hunter said Marshall students and staff are encouraged to wear red ribbons to school every day, Monday through Oct. 27.

“[Red Ribbon Week] brings a whole lot of fun into the school atmosphere. It brings a lot of unity because the staff participates too,” Hunter said. “It’s also so important to catch children early and educate them about the danger of drugs and alcohol … we just want them to be educated and be able to protect themselves and live the best life possible.”

Fort Campbell High School’s National Honor Society students will be leading activities during Red Ribbon Week, under the guidance of club co-sponsors Catherine Fox and Amy Gammons.

“Doctor Gammons and I think when the message comes from the students they tend to listen to their peers,” Cox said. “We are there to supervise, but it’s very much student-led.”

As part of the observance, a handful of students will be role-playing as at-risk students. Each will wear sandwich boards indicating they are using a particular drug or alcohol and the side effects. At the end of the week, the consequences of drug or alcohol abuse will be revealed.

“On Friday the grim reaper will tap those students and they will leave [the classrooms],” Fox said, noting that a student will announce the victims’ names and their fate as a result of their drug or alcohol abuse.

On Oct. 25, a Hopkinsville Police officer will bring an ATV and drunk goggles to FCHS to show seniors what it is like to drink or use drugs and drive.

“[Seniors] are about to leave to either enter the workforce or go to college and become independent,” Fox said. “Part of being a responsible individual is not to make those choices, not to endanger others when you get behind the wheel.”

Fox said she hopes the student body will learn the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse and choose to stay drug and alcohol free.

“I hope that they gain that there are very serious consequences to drug abuse. It’s not fun and games,” she said. “We all need to be responsible citizens.”


Rex Stevenson: 270-412-0080

Joe Varney: 270-412-6825

Abrell Jones: 270-412-0084

Wenona Ealy: 270-412-0085

Staci Scarello: 270-798-3711

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