Substance abuse rep says Kentucky Airmen keeping clean
By Master Sgt. David Gentry, Kentucky National Guard Joint Substance Abuse Program Coordinator
/ Published May 13, 2011
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky Air National Guard is made up of approximately 1,200 Airmen, each of whom seemingly face an ever-increasing operational tempo. With this increase in demands as a result of war mission requirements, assistance during natural disasters and new stateside missions, the Adjutant General and the leadership of both Air and Army National Guard have strengthened Commonwealth policy in regards to drug testing and retention.
The "Kentucky National Guard Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program Policy," signed by the Adjutant General on Nov. 12, 2009, coupled with the Air Force's "zero tolerance" policy on drug abuse, has had a positive impact on drug testing rates. Since implementation, the 123d Airlift Wing has not had a single airman test positive for an illegal substance; resulting in no discharges for drug use.
This has followed a steady decrease from 2007, when four Airmen were discharged as a result of illegal drug use. This policy has also shown positive effects on the Kentucky Army National Guard side as well.
While positive drug testing rates have decreased, testing rates have increased.
Under the direction of the National Guard Bureau (NGB), a minimum of 50 percent of all Airmen will be drug tested per fiscal year; with some with unique specialties facing mandatory testing.
To handle the increased state and federal testing requirements, the Wing has increased the personnel that are implementing tests. These personnel are appointed by unit com-manders and trained by the State Substance Abuse (SA) office. Through this program, safeguards are in place to protect Airmen who might test positive as a result of legal prescription medication use. No one is more proud of our remarkable record in this area than our leadership.
"I am very glad and extremely proud that we didn't lose anyone last year due to illegal drug use," said Col. Greg Nelson, 123d Airlift Wing commander. "This is a direct result of our education, prevention, and testing program; along with our commanders, supervisors, and first sergeants watching out for our Airmen. Every man and woman in the 123d Airlift Wing is too valuable to lose to drugs."
If that is not enough to motivate members to stay away from substance abuse, the commander offered an additional incentive.
"We know illegal drugs are the primary funding source for our enemy, so the purchase of drugs buys ammunition for the terrorist we are fighting," he said. "We will continue to educate our Airmen, and ask them to watch out for each other, their families, friends, and loved ones."
Substance Abuse is everyone's business and does not have a place in today's military. The Substance Abuse Office is here to help all Soldiers and Airmen before they test positive for drug use. And though the Air Force has a "zero tolerance" policy, Airmen can get assistance through the Chaplain's office if they have a problem.
Like all the issues we face during these critical and challenging times, if you see someone in our Wing family who needs help, please step up and direct them to get the assistance they deserve.