Red Ribbon Week arrives at Incirlik

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- It's that time of year again; the air is turning colder and leaves are nestled on the ground. The kids are in school and winter coats are about to be taken out of the attic. In a short couple of weeks, the neighborhood children will scurry around the block with little bags jammed with goodies tightly clenched in their hands. That's right...it's Red Ribbon time again. 

For those who don't know, Red Ribbon week reminds us about the dangers and impacts of drug use and abuse, and the benefits of a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. It may surprise you to know that the Department of Defense has been the forefront of the nation's efforts to combat illegal drugs for many years. Whether through drug testing and educational efforts within our own DoD communities, or by reaching out to others in our supporting communities, our military branches have been steadfast in the endeavors to confront this problem. For that reason, the Deputy Secretary of Defense has declared the week of Oct. 23 to 31 as the official Red Ribbon Week. 

Red Ribbon became a nationally recognized celebration in recognition of a Drug Enforcement Agent named Enrique "Kiki" Camerena, who as a member of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, was kidnapped by a drug cartel and tortured to death while working undercover in Guadalajara, Mexico. Today, when we celebrate Red Ribbon Week we not only honor this slain hero, but we honor all the other men and women who have dedicated their lives and their careers to keeping our communities and our children safe from drugs. 

This year's theme is "100% ME drug Free" which happens to be a very relevant issue considering all the reported drug abuse issues plaguing the world of professional athletics recently. There have been professional athletes who have quit their respective games after allegedly failing drug tests and others have received fines, suspensions and court sentences for illegal drug use or related criminal activity. In the last year, the world of major league baseball has been turned upside down over the issue of steroid use. 

Here at Incirlik, Red Ribbon activities run from Oct. 23 to the 28th. Events include: wearing red clothes or red ribbons throughout the week, awareness seminars and K-9 demonstrations, and artistic contests for school-aged children. Children in grades 2 through 8 will participate in a Red Ribbon parade from the school to the parking lot of the BX/Commissary Oct. 26 starting at 8 a.m. Squadron's will be posted around the parade route to show support and parents are encouraged to walk with their children, along the parade route. 

Regardless if you are child, parent, teacher, or friend, take this opportunity to talk to each other about the issues of substance abuse and how it affects us all. This is the perfect way to honor Kiki and all the other real heroes who have dedicated their life to a drug-free community. Get informed, get involved and then go get some Halloween candy.