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Travis DDRP wins DoD Community Drug Awareness Award

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The 60th Air Mobility Wing Drug Demand Reduction Program received the 27th annual Department of Defense Community Drug Awareness Award Oct. 11, for best drug demand reduction program in the Air Force for fiscal year 2016.

The award is presented annually at the Pentagon, to the best drug demand reduction program for previous fiscal year accomplishments for each branch of service, the National Guard, the Defense Agencies and Field Activities.

“I feel a sense of achievement and appreciation, knowing we won this award,” said Timothy Finney, 60th AMW DDRP manager. “The DDRP is a thankless job. I don’t think anyone understands what goes into doing this job. People only see the one side of it.”

According to Finney, Travis Air Force Base, California, is required to collect 100 percent of the base’s end strength, or approximately 6,200 samples for the fiscal year.

“Every year, we collect close to 7,000 or more urine samples,” said Finney. “This year, we collected close to 8,000. Each sample must be quality checked to ensure there are no discrepancies before being shipped to the lab. The Air Force has a less than one percent error rate.”

At Travis, the demand reduction mission targets the base itself and the communities near the base where Travis families live.  Finney works to educate the community on the dangers and effects drug use has on families while Timothy Vanderhoof and Edmond Diaz, both 60th AMW DDRP drug testing program administrative managers, administer drug testing across the base.

“I have personally seen how drug use and abuse can destroy families and people’s dreams,” said Finney. “This is why I’m so passionate about the program.”

The goal of the Travis DDRP is to provide education, awareness, deterrence and community outreach to safeguard the health and wellness of the large and diverse military community.

The program became important after the Vietnam War, said Finney.

“The military recognized an increase in the use of heroin amongst troops returning from Vietnam,” said Finney. “The program was later expanded to personnel on active duty, becoming a large-scale drug testing system. Many positive drug tests were used for medical cases to receive treatment, without punitive consequences.”

In May 1981, a Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler crashed on the USS Nimitz, killing 14 crew members and injuring 48.

“Many crew members tested positive for marijuana after the accident, drawing attention to the prevalence of drugs in the services,” said Finney. “The DoD implemented a zero tolerance drug policy, making a positive drug test a punishable offense. Once implemented, a dramatic drop was seen in the positive test rates in the military drug testing program.”

The award was later established in 1990 to promote community drug awareness efforts in the DoD community.

The Travis DDRP hosted red ribbon week activities and other prevention programs, which contributed to their award.

National Red Ribbon Week is a drug-prevention program in which children wear red ribbons as a pledge to stay away from drugs with this year’s theme “your future is key, so stay drug free.” Red ribbon week ran from October 23-31,

Parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing red ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America in response to the murder of Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico in 1985, according to redribbon.org. After Camarena’s death, hundreds of people from his hometown of Calexico, California, pledged to live drug-free lives.

In 1988, these pledges led to the launch of National Red Ribbon Week. National Red Ribbon Week was recognized nationally with President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan serving as the first honorary chairs.

The DDRP hosted a door decorating contest at the youth center, a drug prevention carnival and booths at Trunk or Treat and Zombie Week.

“This is the most recognized drug campaign nationwide,” said Finney. “It’s important for our youth to show they are committed to a drug free lifestyle.”

For more information on National Red Ribbon Week, visit www.nfp.org.