FORT DRUM, NY (March 28, 2022) — The Fort Drum Soldier and Family Readiness Division (SFRD) staff will support five awareness campaigns throughout the month of April, with events and activities scheduled to educate and engage community members.
The following campaigns fall under the banner of Mountain Wellness Month:
*Child Abuse Prevention Month
*Alcohol Awareness Month
*Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
*Autism Awareness Month
*Financial Literacy Month
“Mountain Wellness Month is the installation’s collaborative effort to improve the readiness and resiliency of the Soldiers, civilians and family members of Fort Drum,” said Lorilyn Starr, SFRD chief. “The multipronged campaign aims at eliminating sexual assault, sexual harassment, child abuse and substance dependency, while providing education and building resiliency with regards to autism awareness and financial literacy.”
Starr said the SFRD staff started the Mountain Wellness Month campaign in April 2019 to raise awareness about the harmful effects of sexual assault, child abuse and alcohol dependency. It has since expanded to include the Exceptional Family Member Program and Financial Readiness Program.
“Each year it continues to grow in both event execution and community members reached,” she said.
Mountain Wellness Month will include the annual BabyPalooza, a free car show, financial planning videos and Exceptional Family Member Program bowling. A calendar of Mountain events is pinned at the top of the Fort Drum Family Advocacy Program page at www.facebook.com/FTdrumFAP.
Among new initiatives, the Fort Drum SFRD teamed up with the 10th Mountain Division Band to merge awareness messages with music.
Beginning April 1, band members will perform a new song every Friday that focuses on a different awareness topic.
Nichol Borland, Fort Drum sexual assault response coordinator (SARC), spearheaded the virtual concert to support Mountain Wellness Month.
She had previously organized a Rock Against Rape concert when she served as the SARC for Planned Parenthood in Plattsburgh. Borland discovered how combining music with a meaningful message could effectively rally the community toward a cause.
“With the Drumming Up Prevention virtual concert, I didn’t want to focus only on Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM),” she said. “I really wanted to partner and collaborate with all the amazing programs we have here. With five different awareness campaigns going on in April, I wanted to make sure everyone is on board.”
The music videos will be uploaded on the band’s YouTube channel every Friday and shared on the SFRD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FortDrumSFRD. On April 29, performances can be viewed in their entirety as a virtual concert, with a special guest appearance.
“I am very excited about these videos and so excited to partner with everybody involved,” Borland said. “The theme for SAAPM this year is ‘Prevention Starts With You.’ And there is no greater way to promote prevention than to work with a cohesive team-slash-family. And that’s what we are trying to do, really, all of us working together to make a difference in our community.”
In addition to seeing the band perform, viewers can read statistics and other information about that week’s awareness campaign. Some videos will feature Fort Drum community members.
The song playlist includes “This is Me,” from “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack to celebrate Autism Awareness Month, and “Money” by Pink Floyd for Financial Literacy Month. The selection for Alcohol Awareness Month is “I Wish I Was Sober” by Frightened Rabbit and “Blurry,” by Puddle of Mudd for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Borland said she chose “Warrior” by Demi Lovato for SAAPM because it is an empowering ballad about persevering through trauma.
“I want people to feel an emotional pull when they hear this portion of the concert,” she said. “Because if I can’t speak on a personal level to each of the viewers, then I’m not going to get through with the actual message I am trying to make.”
As the installation’s sexual assault response coordinator, Borland said that one of her goals is to assist individuals with their communication skills and strengthening the Army values within them so they can be better members of society.
“When you look at all the (SFRD) programs, that’s what we all do together,” she said. “So, for me, I feel like I am but a small piece of the big puzzle.”
Tom Wojcikowski, Fort Drum Family Advocacy Program educator, said they have never tried incorporating a car show with an awareness campaign before, but he hopes that some outside-the-box thinking will result in a greater community response to Mountain Wellness Month.
“The Family Car Show incorporates all five campaigns during Mountain Wellness Month,” he said. “We’ll have all those cool cars that both adults and kids like to see, race cars, police cars and a fire truck they climb in. But it’s really about family engagement, and having all those awareness displays and information posters at the car show helps get those messages out in the community.”
The car show is scheduled from 9 am to 11 am April 13 at the Multipurpose Auditorium parking lot, Bldg. 10725, North Riva Ridge Loop.
A free sensory-friendly movie will be screened inside the MPA after the car show concludes at 1 pm
“We made it sensory-friendly to support Autism Awareness Month, and everyone is welcome to attend,” Wojcikowski said. “The lights will remain on, and the volume will be a bit lower, but it is a movie that fits in with the car show that people of all ages love.”
In support of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Family Advocacy Program will host BabyPalooza, from 10 am to 1 pm April 27 at the Post Exchange.
This resource fair for families will include a variety of Fort Drum and off-post agencies and organizations, to include Cornell Cooperative Extension educators who will discuss proper nutrition for infants and demonstrate how to make homemade baby food. Representatives from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department will be available to conduct free safety checks on baby car seats in the PX parking lot.
“For the Family Advocacy Program, BabyPalooza is one of our biggest events we host,” Wojcikowski said. “This is our 10th year, and it is a chance for families to see all the informational booths, the demos and talk with people from different agencies.”
Community members are encouraged to visit the Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program page at www.facebook.com/FortDrumASAP, to view a weekly Alcohol Awareness Month public service announcement.
“We are teaming up with the Substance Use Disorder Clinic (SUDCC) for these public service announcements,” said Tammy Leeder, Fort Drum ASAP specialist. “Topics will include how COVID-19 has impacted the way people consume alcohol, binge-drinking behaviors, and how people can get help.”
Leeder said that although alcohol is a legal substance and socially acceptable, it can have a devastating impact on people’s lives when abused.
“In 2019, 20.4 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder, including 14.5 million with an alcohol use disorder,” she said. “The Army Substance Abuse Program aims to educate the community to prevent, deter and assist with high-risk drinking behaviors. We want to provide readiness and resiliency to increase and maintain a healthy lifestyle in reducing alcohol-related incidents.”
Wojcik said that community members are encouraged to look at the Mountain Wellness Month calendar and participate in a class, event or activity.
“The information one person gets at one event or another, they can share with someone who might not be able to attend but could use one of the tips or resources you learned,” he said. “You might be a single Soldier and learn something about a parenting class or Paint With Your Family, and pass that along to a friend who has children. It can lead to helping that Soldier or family in ways you didn’t realize.”
For more information about Mountain Wellness Month, visit www.facebook.com/FortDrumSFRD or call (315) 772-6556.