World War II vets headed back to Iwo Jima, Young Marines make it possible
Friday, January 30, 2015
Medal of Honor recipient Herschel “Woody” Williams will be among the 15 World War II veterans headed back to Iwo Jima next month, and he has the Young Marines to thank for it.
Learn More...

Young Marines Names Division Young Marines of the Year
Thursday, January 29, 2015
The Young Marines youth organization has named six division winners of one of its most prestigious awards - the “Division Young Marine of the Year.”
Learn More...

Two Young Marines awarded Jimmie Trimble Scholarship
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Young Marines SgtMaj Alex Loria of Chantilly, VA, and Young Marines GySgt Brittany Hannah of Miami, FL, are the recipients of the Young Marines’ Jimmie Trimble Scholarship Award.
Learn More...

Young Marines units from across the nation traveled to Hawaii for 73rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
One hundred forty one youth members of the Young Marines from nine states traveled to Hawaii to participate in the 73rd anniversary Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration.
Learn More...

Red Carpet Event for the Young Marines Documentary Premiere Followed by PBS Airing in KY
Friday, October 31, 2014
The national premiere of a 30-minute documentary film, “Generations of Honor: A Year with the Young Marines”, will take place at the historic Kentucky Theatre. The film will air on PBS in KY on Veteran’s Day.
Learn More...

Young Marines Alumni Association is Launched
Monday, October 27, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization now has an Alumni Association for its more than 60,000 former members. Former YM SgtMajor Edgar Huff, who was the 2004 National Young Marine of the Year, has been named executive director of the new association.
Learn More...

Young Marines Wins its 6th Dept. of Defense Award for Anti-Drug Education
Monday, October 20, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization’s Drug Demand Reduction Program is the winner of the 2014 Annual Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Education.
Learn More...

GLOCK donates $50,000 to the Young Marines at the 2014 AUSA Annual Meeting
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
The Young Marines received a $50,000 donation from GLOCK on Monday, Oct. 13, at the Association of United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Expo.
Learn More...

American Legion Child Welfare Foundation Recipients Share Success of Grant
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Joe Lusignan, Deputy Director, West Coast Operations of the Young Marines, discusses "Closing the gate on Drugs" Drug Demand Reduction kits with American Legion family members during the eighth annual Children & Youth Conference in Indianapolis.
Learn More...

223 Young Marines meet World War II Navajo Code Talkers
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Two hundred twenty three members of the Young Marines including registered adult leaders traveled to Window Rock, AZ, to be part of Navajo Code Talkers Day which was Thursday, Aug. 14. Seventeen veteran Navajo Code Talkers attended.
Learn More...

Scott Riley of the Columbus Young Marines named ‘National Adult Volunteer of the Year’
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization has named Scott Riley the “National Adult Volunteer of the Year” at the annual Adult Leaders Conference held in Washington D.C. Riley is the Unit Commander of Columbus Young Marines from Division 5 located in Colu
Learn More...

Young Marines announces ‘National Unit of the Year’ - Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Unit from Knoxville, TN
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization announced the “National Unit of the Year” – Division Three’s Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Unit in Knoxville, TN, under the command of Virgil L. Young, Jr.
Learn More...

National Executive Director and CEO Mike Kessler announces future retirement from the Young Marines
Thursday, August 07, 2014
Mike Kessler, National Executive Director and CEO of the Young Marines, announces his retirement which will take place in late 2015.
Learn More...

The Young Marines unveil a new and expanded Drug Demand Reduction Program: ‘Closing the Gate on Drugs’
Monday, July 14, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization took its drug demand reduction efforts to the next level by launching a new program titled, “Closing the Gate on Drugs.” The program focuses on the drugs that our youth are exposed to early and most often - the ga
Learn More...

The DEA and Young Marines present Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena Awards to six units
Monday, June 16, 2014
The DEA and Young Marines announce Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Award winners. The award honors six units, one award per division, for drug demand reduction efforts through community education and peer-to-peer role modeling.
Learn More...

Blake DeWeese named ‘National Young Marine of the Year’
Friday, June 13, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization announced the 2014 - 2015 “National Young Marine of the Year” – YM SgtMaj Blake W. DeWeese, 18, of Beaverton, OR. As National Young Marine of the Year, DeWeese will travel throughout the country representing the Y
Learn More...

Young Marines grateful for a grant from American Legion Child Welfare Foundation
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation has provided a $90,000 grant to the Young Marines youth organization for the purpose of creating printed materials to use in its campaigns to reduce the demand for drugs through education.
Learn More...

The Young Marines News Network wins second Telly Award
Monday, April 28, 2014
The 35th annual Telly Awards have been announced, and a Nov., 2013, broadcast of the Young Marines News Network won a 2014 bronze Telly in the online video category.
Learn More...

Honorary Young Marine Zach Veach, teen race car driver, wins Indy Lights
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
The Young Marines youth organization salutes teen race car driver Zach Veach, 19, on his first place win in the season opener of the Indy Lights race held Sunday, March 30, in St. Petersburg, FL. He won by leading every lap of the race.
Learn More...

Ten Young Marines Return From a Very Special ‘Reunion of Honor’ on Guam and Iwo Jima
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Young Marines traveled to Guam and Iwo Jima for the annual “Reunion of Honor.” Each year, American and Japanese veterans and their families come together for remembrances of their fallen brothers and to recall the fierce battles.
Learn More...
The Young Marines unveil a new and expanded Drug Demand Reduction Program: ‘Closing the Gate on Drugs’
Monday, July 14, 2014

Drug Demand ReductionThe Young Marines youth organization took its drug demand reduction efforts to the next level by launching a new program titled, “Closing the Gate on Drugs.” The unveiling of the program took place at the annual Adult Leader’s Conference held June 4-7 in Washington D.C.

The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation provided $90,000 in grant monies for the purpose of creating printed materials to use in producing and promoting an even more robust Young Marines Drug Demand Reduction effort. This resulted in the new slogan: “Closing the Gate on Drugs.” The word “Gate” links to what’s called “gateway drugs” which are tobacco, marijuana, prescription medication, inhalants and alcohol.

“The grant is the largest ever given by the Child Welfare Foundation,” said Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “Needless to say, we’re humbled by the foundation’s trust and confidence in us to be effective in our drug demand reduction efforts.”

Each unit is receiving the newly branded kit that includes stickers, tri-fold flyers, pledge forms, slap bracelets, activity books, key chains with a USB drive of the program and feedback forms. These printed materials are being distributed not only to the 300 Young Marines units but to schools and youth organizations in the communities as a part of the outreach program.

“It is essential the drug demand reduction message reach as many young people as possible, and 11,000 Young Marines are working tirelessly to that end,” Kessler said.

The curriculum used is Project ALERT, a school-based, substance abuse prevention program for grades seven and eight.

“Instead of reinventing the wheel with a new education program, we use Project ALERT, an evidenced-based program which has been developed by RAND, the nation’s leading think tank on drug policy,” said Joe Lusignan, deputy director, West Coast Operations and drug demand reduction resource officer with the Young Marines. “When we presented our initiative to the Drug Enforcement Administration, who was already supportive of what we had been doing, they were really excited by the direction we are headed with ‘Closing the Gate on Drugs.’ ”

According to Lusignan, the program is important because it provides standardization throughout the Young Marines program.

“We are reaching all of our Young Marines with the same education, with the same teaching formats, and the same leadership opportunities,” he said. “In addition, the program focuses on the drugs that our youth are exposed to early and most often.”

A 22-year career in law enforcement taught Lusignan that abusers don't leap into the harder drugs that everyone is so concerned about. The insidious infection of drug abuse starts with the gateway drugs. If youth can be stopped from experimenting with the gateway drugs, it stands to reason they won’t progress to the drugs that garner all the concern.

“I'm inspired by the enthusiasm of the Young Marines who have picked up the gauntlet,” Lusignan said. “They’ve become certified instructors and are now leading the charge against the onslaught of drug abuse by educating others, not only in their units, but also within their communities. Our Young Marines are not only picking up the ball but are carrying it forward and bringing their peers with them.

The program consists of lessons that help kids learn and practice new skills and strategies for resisting drugs. In addition, the lessons build positive expectations about life without drugs.

“This program removes the old visual of the adult standing in front of the class lecturing the audience that ‘drugs are bad,’” Lusignan said. “This program puts the power into the hands of our youth, and it gives them not only the education about the drugs themselves but also the tools to resist the temptations they evoke.”

“With our new ‘Closing the Gate on Drugs’ program, we consider ourselves the premier drug demand reduction youth organization with national scope and impact,” Kessler said.

The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.\

Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 300 units with 11,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Japan and with affiliates in a host of other countries to include Germany, Thailand and Hungary.

For more information, visit the official website at


Media Contact: Andy Richardson
Ginny Richardson Public Relations
630-789-8899 or