April. 28, 2010

Virginia Counterdrug Program recognizes extraordinary achievements

Courtesy of Virginia Guard Counterdrug Program

RICHMOND, Va. — In April the Virginia National Guard’s Counterdrug Program recognized seven of its noncommissioned officers for extraordinary achievement. The specific duties of the individuals and the time periods covered in their awards varied with recognition going to members of the Headquarters, Criminal Analyst, and Drug Demand Reduction sections of the program.  “It is important to recognize that these awards are Air Force Commendation medals which highlight the joint nature of our program,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Wright, Counterdrug Operations NCO. Due to operational security concerns, the names of some supported agencies cannot be noted in this article.

Serving as the administrative NCO for the Headquarters section, Tech Sgt. Cynthia Waller provided an outstanding level of support in all facets of her regular duty position but her efforts did not stop there. Waller routinely lent support to the Drug Demand Reduction Section and the first-time offenders program. At the 2008 Joint Services Open House Waller was an ambassador for the National Counterdrug Program and the Virginia National Guard.  For her efforts Waller was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal.

The Criminal Analyst section had two of its NCOs receive the Air Force Commendation Medal. Sgt. 1st Class David Waltman, who has been at his present assignment since 2003, was recognized for his many efforts and accomplishments since his posting at a federal law enforcement agency. In addition to the oversight and training of subordinate Counter Drug personnel, Waltman was key to the support of narcotics investigations throughout Virginia on the federal, state and local levels, over eight hundred for the 2007-2008 period alone.  In 2007 a federal agency conducted a fugitive felon apprehension mission involving agencies on all levels throughout the state. During this operation Waltman exhibited a meticulous attention to detail resulting in the operation arresting over 600 wanted persons.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Rush is currently deployed to Afghanistan and was not present at this conference. But prior to his deployment this Soldier was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal as well. Since coming onboard with the Counterdrug Task Force in early 2000, Rush has remained with the same federal law enforcement agency and during that time his abilities have grown to the point where he is not only supporting his host agency but working with multiple agencies in the state. Rush’s years of experience and analytical abilities enabled him to identify a major narcotics distribution network that was responsible for the distribution and sale of millions of dollars worth of narcotics throughout the United States.

The Air Force Commendation Medal was given to four members of the Drug Demand Reduction section within the Counterdrug Program. During the 2007 to 2008 period, Master Sgt. Kenneth Muse was largely responsible for the management and oversight of the Counterdrug substance abuse education program in communities and schools throughout the commonwealth.  Muse spearheaded the National Guard Bureau’s pilot program “Stay on Track,” and assisted in implementing the “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” mentoring program in several communities. This Soldier also worked with the director of the 4-H Camps in Virginia to develop a partnership with 4-H resulting in the education of over 2,000 youth on the dangers of illegal drugs and substance abuse. 

Perry was also involved in the partnership with 4-H ,not only working to improve the partnership with that organization and the Guard but directly supporting five of their camps throughout Virginia. Perry introduced a new program in Central Virginia called “Battle of the Bands,” helping in the education and mentorship of youth in leading a substance abuse free lifestyle. 

Sgt. Eddie Reasor, based in Southwest Virginia, was recognized for youth education programs, DDR related education in schools, and his support of multiple 4-H camps in Virginia. Reasor was recognized by the mayor of Pennington Gap, Va., for his outstanding dedication and commitment to communities in Virginia. Sgt. 1st Class Rodriguez implemented the National Guard’s “Stay on Track” drug awareness program and Drug Demand Reduction illegal substance abuse education in Northern Virginia. Rodriguez also participated in 4-H camps throughout the commonwealth. During the 2008 Joint Services Open House Rodriguez was selected as a representative for the National Counterdrug Program and the Virginia National.

The Virginia National Guard Counterdrug 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 Virginia Counterdrug program 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. 

“It was very rewarding to be able to recognize the extraordinary work of our Airmen and Soldiers in the Counter Drug Program,” said Lt. Col. Charlton Dunn, the Counterdrug Coordinator. “What we ask of our Counterdrug personnel is very unique and challenging. It takes exceptional Soldiers and Airmen to succeed in this diverse field.”

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