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He tries not to dwell on these memories because they are so painful, but he knows there were times he let his kids down. He still remembers how many times he was too tired to go out and shoot baskets with Bobby and his younger brother Michael—who would himself toy with drugs and die young in an auto accident; how he'd sit with a beer and watch TV instead.


"We're our own worst enemies," he says now. "What needs to be done—and I didn't do it—is pay attention to your kids, he said.

"Sit down and have dinner with them. Listen to what's in their heads."


"More than that, set good examples, follow rules. Make sure your values are very clear. If we have double standards, what's the message we're giving our kids? If your life is in shambles, how do you expect your kids' not to be?"


"There's no magic a parent must do to make sure a kid doesn't get into drugs, but there's a way to stack the odds. You pay attention."


In the four years, he spent raising money for Bobby Benson Center, Maj. Benson has often spoken to community groups. Sometimes, listeners ask how he dares give advice. "Your whole family was screwed up," one man said. "How can you talk to us?" Others have accused him of self-aggrandizement.


But Benson has persisted, saying he hopes Bobby's story will help save others.


"I try to tell them it's not impossible to quit drugs, to quit drinking, to turn your life around," he says. "I tell people don't cry about it, do something about it."


- Beverly Creamer; Advertiser Staff Writer

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