Virginia Guard helps DEA destroy drugs

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force and the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment help Drug Enforcement Administration agents load more than 19,000 pounds of unwanted or expired medications onto Virginia Guard light medium tactical vehicles, or LMTVs, May 2, 2014, in Richmond, Va. Following the load-up, the Soldiers and DEA agents hauled the drugs to an incinerator located in Northern Virginia for destruction. The drugs came from various collection points across the commonwealth and were collected as part of the DEA’s National Take-Bake Initiative, designed to properly and safely dispose of potentially harmful unwanted medications. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force and the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment help Drug Enforcement Administration agents load more than 19,000 pounds of unwanted or expired medications onto Virginia Guard light medium tactical vehicles, or LMTVs, May 2, 2014, in Richmond, Va. Following the load-up, the Soldiers and DEA agents hauled the drugs to an incinerator located in Northern Virginia for destruction. The drugs came from various collection points across the commonwealth and were collected as part of the DEA’s National Take-Bake Initiative, designed to properly and safely dispose of potentially harmful unwanted medications. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

RICHMOND, Va. – More than 19,000 pounds of unwanted and expired medications awaited transport by Soldiers from the Virginia Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force and the Sandston-based Company E, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment May 2, 2014, at the Drug Enforcement Administration in Richmond, Va. Soldiers and DEA agents loaded up bag after bag of unwanted medications onto Virginia Guard light medium tactical vehicles before hauling the drugs north to an incinerator for destruction.

The massive mound of drugs picked up by the Virginia Guard Soldiers came from various community collection points set up around the state at the end of April as part of the DEA’s National Take Back Initiative. The program aims to ensure the proper disposal of unwanted and expired medications as proper disposal by the DEA ensures the drugs stay out of the hands of children and out of waterways as well.

“It shows that the Guard is giving back to their community,” said Staff Sgt. Chad Harada, assigned to the Virginia Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force. “We’re helping to provide knowledge on how to properly dispose of prescriptions.”

This event was the DEA’s 8th Prescription Take Back Day in three and a half years. The program has resulted in the destruction of approximately 2,000 tons of unwanted or expired medications. The Virginia National Guard has assisted with transport and destruction of these drugs for several years.

Along with gaining experience working with partner agencies like the DEA, the Soldiers who assist with this event also get real-world driving experience, driving up and down the I-95 corridor and through the city of Richmond.

“We’re always ready, standing by to help,” said Pfc. Matthew Carbaugh, one of the drivers for the mission. “The Virginia National Guard is right there, ready to help, ready to participate in anything the state might need.

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Photos: Va. Guard assists DEA in drug destruction – May 2, 2014