Alcohol screening program in effect

20 Sep 2013 | 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Since Sept. 1, commands throughout III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations Pacific have received breathalyzers as part of the alcohol screening program.

The purpose of the program is to provide commanders an additional tool to identify their Marines and sailors who are at risk to the adverse effects of alcohol abuse or misuse, according to Marine Administrative Message 709/12.

The ASP accomplishes this through deterring service members from reporting to duty under the influence of alcohol. More importantly, the program provides commanders the opportunity to identify individuals who may be abusing or misusing alcohol and provide them with training, counseling and/or treatment.

“The ASP is a tool to identify alcohol misuse, so that commanders can direct appropriate intervention before life-altering or career (affecting) incidents occur,” said Raul E. Barsallo, a drug and alcohol prevention specialist with the Substance Abuse Counseling Center, which is operated jointly by Marine Corps Community Services and U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. “The ASP supports commanders’ efforts to ensure our Marines arrive to work safe and are fit for duty.”

To accomplish this, commanders will identify ASP coordinators who will be responsible for administrating breathalyzer tests and ensuring all Marines are randomly screened, according to Barsallo.

Since 2010, the Marine Corps has revamped its focus on addressing the misuse and abuse of alcohol, according to Barsallo.

High-risk and underage drinking are some of the most prevalent forms of alcohol abuse in the Marine Corps.

“The program is an experiment because the Marine Corps has not instituted something like this before,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond J. Burton II, the substance abuse control officer with 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “It is a different concept because alcohol abuse prevention is going to be implemented at a lower level of command, produce results in a timely manner, and recognize alcohol abuse early, so that assistance can be provided to the Marine.”

Early identification is the main goal, and early intervention is the primary factor in ensuring that the program is a success, according to Barsallo.

“The program is still in its early development, so it may take time to gauge the results,” said Barsallo. “One of the major aspects of being a Marine is taking care of our own, and this program aims to help affected Marines, so they can get back to into the fight.”