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National Red Ribbon Week

Special Agent Jerry D. Peterson, II
Air Force Office of Special Investigations

The National Red Ribbon Campaign kicked off its twentieth anniversary Sunday.

The National Red Ribbon Campaign, which is the nation's largest drug prevention effort, began after drug traffickers in Mexico tortured and brutally murdered DEA Special Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in March, 1985.

Approximately 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events every year. Both President Bush and his wife, Laura, have served as Honorary Chairpersons of the National Red Ribbon Campaign.

Drug and alcohol abuse, in America, annually create enormous societal costs and prevent millions of people from reaching their full potential at school, on the job, and in their communities. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that more than 14 million Americans use illegal drugs and 17 million Americans are alcoholics or abusers of alcohol.

The rate of abuse of drugs and alcohol by our Nation's youth is also a cause for alarm. Currently, more than 3 million young people between the ages of 14 and 17 have an alcohol problem, and more than half of America's school-age children have tried illegal drugs by the time they have finished high school. Research indicates that youth who avoid the early use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana are less likely to engage in other harmful behaviors such as crime, delinquency and other illegal drug use.

Through the efforts of families, law enforcement officers, healthcare professionals, teachers and dedicated community activists, progress is being made on the ongoing war against substance abuse. Further, one of the most effective ways to reduce the cycle of youth drug addiction and the crime it causes is to reduce demand.

Red Ribbon Week is dedicated in helping to preserve Special Agent Camarena's memory, and further, the cause for which he gave his life, the fight against the violence of drug crime and the misery of addiction. By gathering together in special events and wearing a Red Ribbon during the last week in October, Americans from all walks of life demonstrate their opposition to drugs.

Along with the 0-0-1-3 responsible drinking initiative, Team MacDill can make a difference by reducing substance abuse and its' contribution to incidents of sexual assault, traffic fatalities, domestic violence and suicide. (Courtesy of the Life Skills Center)



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