Drug Dens of the Army

The substance abuse stats for the group were increasing every year. There were repeat offenders, but they had kept their secret well-hidden; no one talked about it — not even those in charge.

These are not drug-crazed interns at Seattle Grace, these are U.S. Army soldiers.

Soldiers are coming up positive for drug usage, and it seems commands are looking the other way. Not only are the offenders not processed for discharge, many are not sent to mandated substance abuse programs. A USA Today story says some have turned up positive for banned substances as many as seven times (possibly signaling habitual use?). It is unclear if any disciplinary action is being taken; regardless, there is little deterrent. Senior Army leaders agree these soldiers should get the treatment they need, and then they need to separate from the service. Leave. Go.

Vice Chief of the Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli has speculated the pressure is so intense on “leaders” to keep up unit manpower numbers that in their minds, if they need to keep substance abusers to make end strength, they’ll take that risk. These “leaders” are endangering their units — not to mention the addicts. They ignore how a guy impaired by drugs or working to score might perform. (Dude, got my back? Don’t count on it.)

We have no sympathy for these commanders. They are supposed to make these difficult decisions. What is curious are the drug users. Was this crew shipped downrange (during the bad times recruiting a few years ago) with mega-waivers for drug use and who-knows-what other habits incompatible with Army life? The Magic 8 Ball says “Signs point to yes.”

Is this group self-medicating, as some suggest? (Magic 8 Ball says, “Don’t count on it.”) The message has been clear: The Army is going to look the other way.

Well, this latest Psychedelic Era might be drawing to a close. Recruiting turned the corner night months ago and manpower pools are getting fat. Retention is fat. These factors should allow the Army to cull the dope-addicted herd.

Chiarelli is right: Get ’em help ‘n’ get ‘em out. If the reports are accurate, the drug-crazed inmates are running the asylum. The Army did it to itself. If manpower projections are accurate, things could change within the next few months.

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