Photo By Sgt. Christina Clardy | AUSTIN, Texas —A special agent from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration speaks…… read more read more
Photo By Sgt. Christina Clardy | AUSTIN, Texas —A special agent from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration speaks with children at Cottonwood Creek Elementary School Oct. 18, 2022, in Hutto, Texas, with support from the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force who brought a LUH-72 Lakota helicopter and their mascot, “Enney the Eagle,” to visit the school during Red Ribbon week activities. Every year, the Texas Counterdrug program supports DEA’s Red Ribbon awareness and prevention activities at schools around the state. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Christina Clardy) see less | View Image Page
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force continued its support of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s outreach and prevention programs for Red Ribbon Week Oct. 23-31, 2022, and October’s National Substance Abuse Prevention Month by visiting 45 schools throughout Texas and supporting several Red Ribbon-centric events throughout the month.
The Texas Counterdrug program’s Drug Demand Reduction Outreach teams partner with DEA and community stakeholders to include local law enforcement agencies, first responders, schools, and community-based organizations to increase drug prevention and awareness among Texas communities and their youths.
“Red Ribbon school presentations are important for a large number of reasons,” said one DEA agent who participated in several of the school visits. “We want to instill confidence in students to stand up to drug dealers and peer pressure and inspire them to live drug-free, so they have a full chance at chasing their dreams.”
During the month of October, Texas Counterdrug and agents from DEA visited 45 schools across the state directly reaching more than 21,000 kids and sending out more than 200,000 Red Ribbon wristbands to other schools to use in their own Red Ribbon Week activities. Texas DDRO teams participated in other communities by attending community events such as National Night Out, Red Ribbon and Substance Use and Prevention 5Ks, and community townhalls.
Red Ribbon school presentations are an opportunity for students to interact with law enforcement agencies, first responders and National Guard Servicemembers in a positive way as many local first responders show up with police cruisers, firetrucks and even SWAT trucks for the kids to see and check out the equipment inside. The DEA, Texas Counterdrug Aviation Element, and Texas Counterdrug mascot “Enney the Eagle” fly in on a LUH-72 Lakota helicopter and land for a static display so the students have the chance to see the military helicopter up close.
The focal point of the visit is the age-appropriate Red Ribbon presentation presented by a DEA agent. The students receive the important message of the dangers of substance use and misuse, and are given the opportunity to ask the agent and the first responders questions about drugs, safety, healthy living, and what to do if they encounter unknown drugs, weapons, or substances.
“Kids don’t understand the dangers of illicit and misused drugs, and its important to have these conversations with them so they can be safe, live healthy lives and see how their choices can affect their future,” said a DEA agent who participated in several of the school visits. “It’s vital to deliver a positive and encouraging message to students whether we’re discussing drug or care [vaping, alcohol, weapon] awareness. Students need to hear that reinforced message about drug awareness from a law enforcement officer who can provide age-based tips to help them make those wise choices to help reach their goals and dreams.”
Every year the DEA participates in the National Family Partnership’s Red Ribbon Campaign. Red Ribbon Week is held on the last week of October every year and is the nation’s largest and longest-running drug-use prevention campaign. The NFP’s mission is to “lead and support our nation’s families and communities in nurturing the full potential of healthy, drug free youth.”
“The Texas Joint Counterdrug Task Force participates in Red Ribbon as part of our mission to increase drug awareness among Texas youths and to celebrate the legacy of Special Agent Kiki Camerana in support of this national campaign,” said Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Hager, the program manager for Texas Counterdrug’s DDRO.
The Red Ribbon Campaign also honors fallen DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena who was kidnapped, tortured, and killed in Mexico in 1985 while conducting drug investigations in that area. In his memory, family, friends, and eventually parents and youth across the United States began to wear red-satin ribbons to display their support in keeping their kids and communities drug free.
“As a presenter, I take great pride in representing DEA and delivering a captivating and important message like this to students and adults alike,” said the DEA agent. “It’s vital to deliver a positive and encouraging message to students where we are discussing drug or care [medication misuse, weapons, or alcohol] awareness. Students need to hear that reinforced message about drug awareness from a law enforcement officer who can provide age-based tips to help them make those wise choices to help reach their goals and dreams.”
The DDRO team in El Paso also partnered with community-based organizations, and law enforcement agencies in the area to hold a Red Ribbon 5K Run/Walk at Ascarate Park to raise awareness and promote healthier living by staying drug free.
“This year was an extremely successful year with us reaching around 21,000 students,” said Hager. “National Guardsmen are often referred to as ‘citizen soldiers.’ We are members of these communities in our great State and this allows us to continue to serve our communities in a unique way to ensure the future continues to be bright for Texas and our nation.”
The Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force detects, interdicts, and disrupts drug smuggling and associated illicit activities at the request of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies by leveraging unique military skills and assets in order to support national counterdrug strategies and objectives, as well as the National Guard State Interdiction and Counterdrug Activities Plan for the State of Texas.
The Texas National Guard Drug Demand Reduction Outreach program (DDRO), in collaboration with government agencies and community organizations, develop, implement and evaluate drug prevention strategies in an effort to reduce substance misuse and its destructive impact in our communities. Drug Demand Reduction Outreach specialists provide training and support in leadership, planning, decision making and interagency collaboration while advancing community-led drug demand reduction efforts.
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