Young Marines unit commander honored

TROY — When Keagan Miller first joined the Young Marines in 2000, he never anticipated getting honored with the Enrique Camarena Red Ribbon Award.

“It shocked me when I found out about it, that they had picked me for it. I knew the National Family (Partnership) and the Red Ribbon, obviously, we do Red Ribbon every year, but I didn’t realize I was anywhere close to being the top person in that,” Miller said.

Miller is currently the Young Marines unit commander of the Miami Valley Young Marines of Huber Heights and Troy. He joined the Young Marines shortly after enlisting as a Marine in 2000; within a year he was promoted to executive officer, and within the next year he was promoted to commander. Since 2016, his work with the organization has been focused on drug prevention, with a creative approach to spreading the message on how youth and other members of the community can work toward recognizing and addressing the drug problems within the community. Before the pandemic, this included drug-themed escape rooms that addressed the opioid epidemic in the area. Currently, the Miami Valley Young Marines of Huber Heights and Troy have YouTube videos ranging from minute-long informational videos, to PSA-style videos. Miller also mentioned that their drug prevention classes will be going virtual and begin in March. More information on those classes can be found on the Miami Valley Young Marines of Huber Heights and Troy’s Facebook page.

“Everybody sets up little booths places, but it doesn’t really draw a crowd. The kids do community classes to youth; we train our Young Marines, and they move out to the community and spread their message out that way, too,” Miller said.

Miller said that while drug prevention has always been a component in the Young Marines, he put focus on it in 2016, after seeing the drug epidemic in the area covered frequently on the local news. It’s also a cause that hits home for Miller, who has had close friends and family directly impacted by the opioid epidemic.

“I wanted to change it. I already had an audience with my young marines, and the Young Marines has always been an anti-drug program, I just personally wasn’t doing as much in it. We stepped up our game in that arena, and they keep winning because of it,” Miller said.

While Miller isn’t personally a fan of solo awards, it came as a surprise when he found out he was honored with the Enrique Camarena Red Ribbon Award. The award is given annually to recognize a person who has made significant contributions in the field of drug prevention, and who personifies Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Enrique Camarena’s belief that one person can make a difference.

“It’s exciting, to win an award like that, and I guess I’m even more excited because I was nominated by our headquarters at Young Marines. They saw it, and decided I should be put in for it. I guess that’s the more exciting part, just knowing that people cared enough to put you in for it,” Miller said. “Making a difference in the lives of others is a tough thing to gauge. I stick to my rule of doing what I think is right and hope for the best outcome from it.”

“The Miami Valley Young Marines, led by Keagan Miller, is one of the most recognized units for drug prevention throughout the entire Young Marines organization,” Col William P. Davis USMC (Ret), national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines, said. “Keagan is a remarkable leader in the prevention field. We heartily congratulate him for the vitally important difference he is making.”

The Miami Valley Young Marines was founded in 1998 as the Dayton Young Marines. The name was changed in 2003 to encompass communities in all 13 counties in the Miami Valley area. The unit has 30 youth members and 12 registered adult leaders.

For more information about the Miami Valley Young Marines, visit https://miamivalleyyoungmarines.com/