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New commandwide anti-drug initiative begins

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Supply and demand are part of life in America. Unfortunately, that life includes a large supply of abused legal and illegal drugs.

In an effort to reduce the demand for these drugs, Air Force Reserve Command began its “True Blue” campaign commandwide in April.

“In the past, anti-drug or anti-substance abuse efforts were all negative and centered on disciplinary action,” said Dr. Don Jenrette, the command’s drug demand reduction program manager. “Our new True Blue initiative promotes healthy living, career-mind sets and career role models.”

Trial runs of the new initiative exceeded planners’ goals during May - November 2004 at the 440th Airlift Wing, located at General Mitchell International Airport Air Reserve Station, Milwaukee, Wis.

“We focused the trial test around four themes,” said Ms. Bobbie Sellers, AFRC’s drug demand reduction specialist. “We worked to raise awareness of what reservists should value over substance abuse and what they can do to protect their health, career and family and fulfill their leadership role with others.”

Since 1998, the primary emphasis of AFRC’s Drug Demand Reduction Program was detection through random military and civilian drug testing.

The new True Blue initiative showcases positive and healthy life choices. It introduces reservists and other command members to a new logo, themes and messages that are communicated by a dedicated Web site, with downloadable in-house developed posters, video streams, tri-fold pamphlets and other educational venues encouraging people to be free of substance abuse and where to go for help.

“Our goal, while a lofty one, is to have a workplace free of substance abuse,” said Dr. Jenrette. “In the profession of arms, our people often put their lives in the hands of their co-workers. We cannot afford to have people on the team who are not at the top of their game or incapacitated by substance abuse – after all, we are talking about a matter of life and death.”

The mission of the AFRC Drug Demand Reduction Program is to enhance readiness by eliminating substance abuse through prevention, education, community outreach and drug testing.

“In the past, we have used handouts such as pencils, writing pads, calculators and water bottles to get the substance abuse-free message out there,” said Dr. Jenrette. “We’ll continue to provide the promotional items, but our targeted four theme approach is something brand new that our reservists really responded to in a positive way in Milwaukee. On a larger scale we’re looking forward to reaping similar benefits by launching this initiative commandwide.”

The 440th Airlift Wing has 1,300 reservists, with more than 300 serving overseas to support the Global War on Terrorism. The True Blue brand is designed to symbolize reservists who are “twice the citizen”: working and volunteering in their local communities and serving their country.

The program’s vision is for Air Force True Blue reservists to set the standard and lead the way to a substance abuse-free community. Reservists can learn more about the program by going to the True Blue link on the restricted AFRC Web site. While visiting the site, planners encourage visitors to take a moment to complete a survey.

“We strongly encourage feedback,” said Dr. Jenrette. “That’s how we can make the site the best it can be and the go-to place for anti-substance abuse related education and information.”