FORCE BASE, Calif. – Timothy Finney has seen the toll drugs can take first hand.
The 60th Air Mobility Wing Drug Demand Reduction Program manager at Travis Air
Force Base, California, talks of family reunions with relatives missing due to
death or imprisonment, including generations who are gone or a younger brother
who spent decades behind bars.
Having lived the toll, it motivates Mr. Finney’s
outlook toward his job, driving the sort of vision that earned Travis the Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness
Award for the Air Force for the second consecutive year. The award is given
annually 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.
Finney’s goal is to deliver
information to empower people to make better choices, he said.
want kids to have to go through what I saw my brother go through, my relatives
and everything,” he said. “It’s real personal to me. It’s just the fact that I
think back on when we were kids and it’s like, well, you know, they’re not
here. They’re not here.”
one of the signature programs of his annual campaign is Red Ribbon Week, an
annual drug awareness campaign that takes place in October. The event was
inspired by the kidnapping, torture and murder of Drug Enforcement Agency agent
Enrique “Kiki” Camarena by drug traffickers in 1985. The wearing of red ribbons
was adopted first by his home town as a symbol to be drug free and later, on a
throughout the year, including a civilian health fair, holiday parties, Kids
Understanding Deployment Operations, and other base functions, are efforts to
reach as many different demographics as possible. Finney tries to break through
to people with information paired with giveaways or his “Wheel of Misfortune,”
a game where locations on a wheel result in Finney asking the participant
wants to spin the wheel, so I try to make it interesting,” he said. “We have an
array of different articles, information and giveaways.”
to preventive measures, DDRP also oversees the selection and collection of drug
testing for more than 7,000 members of the Team Travis community. For the award
year, Finney said the office saw a 0.06 percent rate of untestable samples, the
lowest rate in the past five years.
that’s a large component of the office’s activity, Finney said he tries to
focus on prevention.
on his own life and what prevented him from abusing drugs, Finney said his
upbringing made a deep impression, but so, too, did basketball.
“I was a
basketball junkie,” he said. “Everything else around me didn’t matter. That’s
what I wanted to do.”
in sports is something Finney encouraged earlier this decade when he ran the
Drug Education for Youth camp, a drug abuse prevention and life skills program
aimed at dependents ages 9 to 12. Finney said after winning the Secretary of
Defense Community Drug Awareness Award for the second straight year,
he’s working to bring DEFY back.
the impact of his efforts is harder to quantify, Finney said.
know if it works,” he said. “You give them the knowledge. What they do with it
is on them, but you tried.”
“Team Travis members like
Mr. Finney are vital to ensuring the success of our mission,” said Col. Matthew
Leard, 60th AMW vice commander. “We are exceptionally proud that the Air Force
has recognized Mr. Finney two years in a row for the dedication and passion
that he puts toward the prevention of drug abuse.”