Unit prevention leader training strengthens unit fitness

Story and photo by Kyle Flaugher
7th CSC Public Affairs intern

Every day the 7th Civil Support Command trains Soldiers, but Jeffrey Whitesell, the command’s alcohol and drug control officer, trains and certifies Soldiers through the Unit Prevention Leader Course, which strengthens the overall fitness and effectiveness of the workforce to conserve manpower and enhance combat readiness.

“The Army Substance Abuse Program was developed back in the 1970s due to the problems primarily that were seen occurring in Vietnam with a lot of Soldiers,” Mr. Whitesell said. “Drugs in Vietnam had a very high impact on the units’ readiness due to the fact that a lot of Soldiers were incapable of functioning at that point when they were using drugs.”

Mr. Whitesell has 20 years of experience in all functional areas of the Army Substance Abuse Program.

“My job is primarily to oversee the command’s Army Substance Abuse Program, which includes prevention education, drug testing and rehabilitation services,” said Mr. Whitesell, who joined the 7th CSC last year.

Mr. Whitesell works closely with all the command’s unit prevention leaders, including Staff Sgt. Martinez and four other UPLs assigned to HHC, 7th CSC.
“I have been a UPL for three years,” Sergeant Martinez said. “Every three months we have to test at least 25 percent of the unit.”

A random computer selection chooses who will participate in drug testing, Sergeant Martinez said.

“Random selection is the best tool. In fact, on the civilian drug testing side, they do not have anything other than random selection because it is the fairest,” Mr. Whitesell said. “Every time there is a selection, everybody has the same chance of being selected.”

The commander can order a unit sweep urinalysis, where each Soldier is tested, or he can randomly select a percentage of Soldiers. The commander can also individually test a Soldier. This occurs when the commander orders a single Soldier to complete a drug test, generally based on probable cause that the Soldier has been abusing illicit drugs or the commander has concerns for the Soldier’s well-being.

The statistics are proof enough that ASAP has minimized drug use in the military. In 1980, 27.6 percent of military respondents polled admitted to using an illegal drug within the past 30 days, and 36.7 percent polled admitted to using an illicit drug in the past year. In a poll conducted in 1998, it revealed that only 2.7 percent admitted to using illegal drugs within the past 30 days, and 6.0 percent admitted to using an illicit drug in the past year.

There are two upcoming five-day UPL courses this summer being hosted by the 7th CSC. The next courses are scheduled to take place from Aug. 22 to 26.

A Soldier must be the rank of sergeant or above to be selected to attend the course and not have any substance abuse related incidents within the past three years.
For more information about the course, call Mr. Whitesell at 0631-411-4755 or 314-483-4755.