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DDRP dissuades drug abuse

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mindy Bloem
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In a day and age where drug abuse is so prevalent, the Air Force has put a program in place to combat the abuse of such illegal drugs among its members and Air Force community. 

Drug abuse is defined as the wrongful, illegal or illicit use of a controlled substance, prescription medication, over-the-counter medication or intoxicating substance (other than alcohol) or the possession, distribution, or introduction onto a military installation of any controlled substance. 

Because military members must be a fit and ready fighting force, the goal of the program is to deter military members from drug abuse and to identify others for treatment, rehabilitation and administrative or disciplinary action. 

"The potential impact upon the mission and military members on this installation requires that this essential program is used fully and fairly," said Tracy DeVeault, Pope's Drug Demand Reduction program manager. 

Besides helping to provide drug testing, Mrs. DeVeault and her team have the added responsibility of conducting outreach and prevention activities. On a regular basis, they provide briefings to FTAC Airmen, newcomers to Pope and ADAPT. 

"The drug demand program is designed to deter and detect, so more of our deterrence efforts are focused on prevention," Mrs. DeVeault said. "When we talk to the young Airmen at FTAC or to the newcomers, it's an opportunity for us to educate them on what drugs may be prevalent in the area, on what places to avoid, on recreation activities available for them or things available on base for them to get involved in and help them find things other than drugs to get involved in while they're stationed here." 

This preventative concept also extends to the military youth. In fact, Mrs. DeVeault is currently in the process of planning the 2009 Drug Education For Youth program. DEFY is a year-long program which focuses on working with military youth between the ages of 9 and 12 and teaching them substance abuse prevention in addition to gang resistance, physical fitness, conflict resolution, self-esteem development and how to become productive citizens in today's society. Active duty personnel or DoD civilians volunteer to act as mentors and team leaders to the youth involved in the program. 

One volunteer, Senior Airman Ivanka Stefanova, 43rd Airlift Wing, believes in the value of DEFY because of her own personal participation in the program over the last year. 

"Now that I am involved in DEFY, I see how important it is to mentor a child," she said. "I can see the difference in the kids from when they first entered the program to now. The interaction between them is much better, and even the problematic ones have started to behave better. This past weekend I was very impressed with one of the DEFY campers. While we were waiting outside the roller skating rink, he pointed out to me a person who was standing on the road smoking. He said 'Ms. Ivanka, that person over there is smoking; that is bad for him.' I think this is a great program through which kids can learn and understand how harmful and horrible drugs can be." 

Mrs. DeVeault said teaching people the importance of avoiding harmful substances is important at any age and hopes to deter individuals through promoting drug education.

 "Studies have shown that people are exposed to drugs at early ages, even as early as elementary school, so to prevent them from using is a huge achievement. I think it's important to give them as many tools in their tool bag which will enable them to say 'no' and find a positive alternative in their lives other than choosing to use drugs," she said. 

Although witnessing someone get a positive result on a drug test is not one of her favorite aspects of the job, Mrs. DeVeault says it is important to assist commanders in assessing the security, military fitness, readiness, good order and discipline of their commands. 

"I think drugs are not compatible with someone's choice to be in the military," she said. "We rely on our Airmen each and every day to ensure the aircraft they work on or fly on are safe. We want to make sure that the people who are repairing and flying the aircraft or having anything to do with the Air Force mission are drug free." 

Mrs. DeVeault said it is also important that she ensure each and every specimen collected is supported by a legally defensible chain of custody at the collection site and during transport. 

"Each collection that we get, we have to assume will come back positive," she said. We have to assume that so if it does, unfortunately, come back with a positive result for drug use, the legal system can take that particular test to a court martial and feel comfortable that every step was followed to the letter." 

Additionally, Mrs. DeVeault stressed there are a number of other agencies and channels involved in making sure things are done properly, and without whom, the program would not succeed. For more information on the DDRP or how to volunteer for DEFY, call Mrs. DeVeault at 394-1182.