Detective Sgt. Ben Becker of the Delphos Police Department shows the audience what marijuana and other drugs look like and their street value during his presentation at the American Legion Past Commanders/Past Presients Banquet held Saturday. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
Detective Sgt. Ben Becker of the Delphos Police Department shows the audience what marijuana and other drugs look like and their street value during his presentation at the American Legion Past Commanders/Past Presients Banquet held Saturday. (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)

DELPHOS — Delphos American Legion Post 268 held its 80th annual Past Commanders/Past Presidents Banquet Saturday evening at the hall. Special guests included District 2 Assistant Sgt. at Arms Paul Mauer, Department of Ohio 2nd Vice Shirley Mauer, District 2 President Deb Meyer and Allen County Commander and past District Commander John Eccard.

Local Buckeye State attendees and those with winning Americanism Test scores and their families were special guests as well.

The 2015 Buckeye Boys State delegate was Curtis Pohlman from St. John's. Buckeye Girls State delegates were Clair Thompson from Jefferson and Rachel Pohlman was St. John's. Curtis and Rachel Pohlman were in attendance.

"Buckeye Boys State was a great experience," Curtis said. "I made a lot of friends and learned about our state government."

His female counterpart agreed.

"Buckeye Girls State was the best week of my life," she said. "It was a very prestigious event and a good experience to prepare for college."

Americanism Test winners Eli Kimmett (Jefferson), Connor Hesseling (St. John's), Allison Gerberick (St. John's), Abby Stocksdale (St. John's) and Collin Will (St. John's) were also on hand. Kimmet placed the highest of senior boys and at the county level. Thompson, also an Americanism Test winner, placed the highest of senior girls at the local and county level; Hesseling was top junior at both levels; Gerberick placed high in the junior girls; Will was top sophomore at the local and county level; and Stocksdale score high locally for sophomore girls.

The names of the past commanders and presidents were read and a bell tolled for those who are deceased.

Two members, John A. Metzner Jr. and Richard Weber were recognized for their continuous service at 60 years and 70 years, respectively.

Guest speaker Detective Sgt. Ben Becker from the Delphos Police Department closed the evening. Becker came armed with an evidence box full of illegal drugs, including two different types of heroin, a very prevalent drug in Delphos right now. He shared very sobering facts about the drug and its users.

"There are only three ways to beat the addiction of heroin," Becker said. "Long-term treatment and rehabilitation, long-term incarceration and death."

Becker served on the West Central Ohio Crime Task Force for four years and said he has pretty much seen it all.

He said most of the drug users he's come in contact with aren't bad people, they just made a very bad choice and now have to live with the consequences.

"What you see on show like TV's 'Intervention' pretty accurate," he said. "These people will steal and sell anything to get their next fix. They steal from family and friends because its easier to seek forgiveness from them rather than a stranger. They are our 'car shoppers' looking for anything they can use to get more heroin."

Becker said some are even grateful to get arrested because they know they need to clean up.

"Many heroin addicts started with pain medication for a legitimate medical problem. When the prescription opioid runs out, they find they need something and turn to heroin," he said.

For others, it seems to a be a progression while seeking the next good high.

"I have worked with 100s of drug users and 99 percent of the time, the first drug they tried was marijuana," Becker said. "If that doesn't make marijuana a gateway drug, I don't know what would.

"Heroin is just a different animal," Becker said. "This stuff is real and it's life-changing."