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Published:October 21st, 2006 07:45 EST
DOD celebrates 2006 Red Ribbon Week

DOD celebrates 2006 Red Ribbon Week

By SOP newswire

Department of Defense officials will celebrate the 2006 Red Ribbon Week beginning Oct 23 with an 11 a.m. awards ceremony in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes. 

John P. Walters, the director of the national drug control policy, will present Gordon England, the deputy secretary of defense, the award for excellence in countering illicit drug use in support of the president's National Drug Control Strategy. The award is being presented to the DoD drug-testing program for a 35-year record of standard-setting success. As a result, DoD has decreased illicit drug use among servicemembers by 92 percent, and the program has become the model for the drug testing industry. 

This year's theme for Red Ribbon Week is "United Against Drugs," focusing on educating individuals, families and communities on the destructive effects of drugs and the positive alternative life choices that are available to our youth.

In 1990, DoD joined in the national effort by commencing an award program to encourage servicemembers to become involved in keeping communities drug-free and to recognize outstanding outreach programs. Each year, one winner is selected from each service, the National Guard, and participating Defense agencies to receive the secretary of Defense's Community Drug Awareness Award. This award is presented to the military installation or program from each of these organizations that are deemed to have the best anti-drug program for that year.

In 2001, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics established an award to recognize the efforts of independent military-affiliated youth organizations that have successfully assisted in spreading the anti-drug message throughout their community. The Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Programs will be presented for the sixth time this fall.

Red Ribbon Week originated as a tribute to Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" S. Camarena of the Drug Enforcement Administration. In 1985, he was killed by drug traffickers in Guadalajara, Mexico. His death enraged many Americans in his hometown of Calexico, Calif., and they began to wear red ribbons to commemorate his sacrifice. The anti-drug message spread quickly, and in 1988, the National Family Partnership took the Red Ribbon celebration nationwide.