The South Dakota National Guard Counterdrug Program's Civil Operations Team was awarded the Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Award at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes in Washington, D.C. Thursday, Oct. 18.
The award recognizes the best Drug Demand Reduction program in each military service for its effort in promoting its support of outreach and prevention programs within its communities.
"We are honored and humbled to receive an award like this for the third consecutive year," said Maj. Robert Dejong, SDNG Counterdrug coordinator. "Our Civil Operations Team has done a tremendous job of communicating drug-free message."
South Dakota's Civil Operations Team set the tone for the year during Red Ribbon Week, where they had approximately 15,000 students sign a red ribbon pledging to live their lives drug-free.
"To receive recognition for our efforts at the national level is very humbling," said Master Sgt. Kristi Palmer, SDNG Civil Operations noncommissioned officer in charge. "Our state works extremely hard to educate our youth and communities about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs by promoting positive decision making skills that will hopefully have a lifelong impact."
The SDNG Counterdrug program started in 1996, as a one-soldier operation, with the mission of teaching the negative effects of bad choices and decisions, tobacco use, alcohol use, marijuana use and meth use.
"We engage with youth and organizations all over the state and are honored to be a part of the positive impact that we have on them," Palmer said. "Without the hard work, dedication and passion of our Counterdrug members and community coalitions, this award would not be possible."
"This award is a perfect example of our Civil Operations Team working together with our coalition partners to make a community event like this successful," said Dejong. "I couldn't be more proud of this accomplishment."