L to R: Dr. Laura A. Junor; Young Marines Sgt. Major McCall Behringer, National Young Marine of the Year; Mike Wilson, Red Ribbon Week coordinator; Major General Arthur Dean (Ret); and Joseph J. Angello, Jr., director of Operational Readiness and Safety, Department of Defense

The Young Marines youth organization’s Drug Demand Reduction Program is the winner of the 2012 Annual Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Programs. The award is given annually by the United States Department of Defense. It recognizes military-affiliated youth organizations around the world that have made intensive efforts at spreading anti-drug messages in local communities; Waterbury has a chapter of Young Marines.

Joseph J. Angello, Jr., director of Operational Readiness and Safety, Department of Defense, presented the award to Young Marines Sgt. Major McCall Behringer, National Young Marine of the Year, and Mike Wilson, Red Ribbon Week coordinator, at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, during a special ceremony during Red Ribbon Week in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, Army Navy Drive and Fern Street, Arlington, VA. Guest speakers were Dr. Laura A. Junor and Major General Arthur Dean (Ret).

Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program. It inspires school children and youths to avoid drug use. By wearing red ribbons and participating in community anti-drug events, young people pledge to live a drug-free life.

The Young Marines’ participation in Red Ribbon Week was successful in reaching more than 40,000 elementary and middle school students throughout the nation. The Red Ribbon Week campaign was enhanced through a partnership with the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation.

This is the fifth time since 2001 the Young Marines youth organization has been honored with the prestigious Fulcrum Shield Award.

“The outstanding effort of the Young Marines toward drug demand reduction is a model for other youth organizations, said Captain Kevin L. Klette, director of Drug Testing and Program Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, United States Navy. “The program demonstrates how innovation and hard work can achieve an effective community drug awareness program.”

Drug Demand Reduction training is a year-round requirement of the core curriculum of the Young Marines; each Young Marine receives three hours of Drug Demand Reduction education per quarter.

Supervised by adult volunteers, the Young Marines are responsible for the creation, design and execution of viable anti-drug programs tailored to each community. The members decide the best strategies for peer education while considering the trends of drug abuse in each individual town or city.

“Our Young Marines continue to make great efforts in their home towns to communicate the drug-free message to other youths of what can be achieved by living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle”, said Michael Kessler, national executive director of the Young Marines. “Our members are the very best ambassadors to get the message out to peers.”

The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Since the Young Marines’ humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 300 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Germany, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.

For more information, visit: http://www.YoungMarines.com.