May 18, 2010

Counter-Drug troops teach children about the dangers of drugs

Staff Reports

SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. — More than 800 students and staff of Brock Road Elementary in Spotsylvania visited with the crew and aircraft of the Virginia National Guard Counter-Drug Program and Detachment A of the 2nd of the 151st S&S Aviation Battalion May 7, 2010.  Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Lindley and 1st Sgt. Eddie Bonilla flew an OH-58A Kiowa Helicopter to the school in support of the Drug Demand Reduction program. This program allows Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to meet with and mentor children about the abuse of drugs. 

 

1st Sgt. Eddie Bonilla, explains aircraft mechanics to intrigued elementary students during a visit to Brock Road Elementary in Spotsylvania May 7, 2010. (Courtesy photo)

“Drugs are bad for your body,” Lindley told a group of students at the school. “Who do you tell if someone tries to give you drugs?” 

“Mom and dad,” many of the children yelled. “Teachers and police,” some other students responded.

Throughout the day children sat around the aircraft as Lindley talked about drugs, the helicopter, and the need for each child to pursue his or her dreams. After a few questions, children and staff swarmed the helicopter asking questions about parts and pieces. Then groups would rotate and it would all start over again with a fresh group of eager students.

The Virginia National Guard Counter-Drug program places Guardsmen in the community, conducting Drug Demand Reduction classes for schools and civic organizations, supporting law enforcement agencies with criminal analysts and technical support, providing prevention, treatment, and outreach services to Guardsmen, managing the Joint Substance Abuse Program, and providing aviation support to law enforcement agencies. The program also provides funds to the S&S Battalion to keep three pilots and two crew chiefs on full-time orders at a high state of readiness to provide support to counter-drug operations within the Commonwealth. 

 

Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Lindley and 1st Sgt. Eddie Bonilla of the Virginia Guard Counter-Drug Program pose with Brock Road Elementary School students during their visit to the school May 7, 2010. (Courtesy photo)

The mission of the S&S Battalion is to perform air movement, aerial sustainment, search and rescue, command and control, and reconnaissance and observation in support of homeland security, counter-drug, operations outside the continental United States and other operations as approved by the office of the Secretary of Defense. The battalion provides a geographically dispersed, readily available light utility aviation capability for federal or state authorities and combatant commanders.  

“Today’s mission requirements and operational tempo for Counter-Drug aviation personnel are demanding,” said Lt. Col. Charlton Dunn, the Counter-Drug Program coordinator. “A day spent with children explaining the dangers of drugs, serving as positive role models, and giving ‘high fives’ and ‘knuckles’ is not only a combat multiplier for our DDR mission, but is a change of pace from flying marijuana eradication and law enforcement support flights as well as the long hours of critical aircraft maintenance vital to our success.”   

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