October 23-31 is National Red Ribbon Week

October 23-31 is National Red Ribbon Week

Preventing alcohol and substance abuse is a top priority all year for the Arizona National Guard and those efforts are highlighted during National Red Ribbon Week October 23 – 31. (Image provided by Army.mil)

Story by Spc. Wes Parrell

Arizona National Guard Public Affairs

 

PHOENIX – Preventing alcohol and substance abuse is a top priority all year for the Arizona National Guard and those efforts are highlighted during National Red Ribbon Week October 23 – 31.

 

As Citizen-Soldiers, members of the National Guard have unique challenges, from balancing civilian jobs and family activities with monthly drill weekends, to mobilizing and deploying in support of state and federal missions. The Guard wants to educate its’ members on how to deal with those stressors in a positive way.

 

The Arizona Army National Guard Substance Abuse Program provides prevention training, known as Strong Choices, which focuses on a promoting a ready and resilient force. SAP also offers resources and community partners to assist Soldiers and family members.

 

 “The Arizona Army National Guard SAP is dedicated to offering a three-fold approach to addressing alcohol and substance abuse,” said Ardis McElhaney, alcohol and drug control officer. “We focus on Strong Choices for prevention, a comprehensive drug testing program for deterrence, and a referral program for Soldiers who need assistance.”

Warning signs and risk factors generally help identify if someone needs help. Signs of alcohol or substance abuse include: neglecting responsibilities, using substances or alcohol in situations where it is physically dangerous, problems with relationships,  or repeated legal problems due to alcohol or substance use.

 

SAP is dedicated to educating Soldiers about the Limited Use Policy. This policy allows Soldiers to seek assistance from their chain of command. The chain of command and SAP will work together to help Soldiers receive the treatment they need. Guard officials say it is important that Soldiers seek help prior to knowledge of a urinalysis test to fall within this policy.

 

“The most important thing for Soldiers to remember is to seek help before it is too late,” said Army Staff Sgt. Kim Hesterman, drug testing coordinator for the Arizona National Guard. “We want Soldiers to be proactive and use resources before alcohol or substance abuse affects their health, their family, or their career.”

 

In order to maintain combat readiness, it is imperative that Soldiers and their families remain drug free, said Hesterman. The Arizona National Guard Substance Abuse Program is focused getting prevention training to each and every Soldier.

 

For more information contact any of the following resources:

 

Alcohol and Drug Control Officer

Ardis McElhaney, M.S., LASAC

602-531-3618

[email protected]

 

Prevention Coordinator

Mike Seaman

602-629-4225

[email protected]

 

Drug Testing Coordinator

Staff Sgt. Kim Hesterman

623-692-5198

[email protected]

 

Chaplain

Maj. Christopher Melvin

602-267-2921

[email protected]

 

Service members or  families in crisis should seek help immediately by contacting the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1 for military) for 24/7 crisis support.

 

The crisis line also provides an online chat at www.militarycrisisline.net and text service

(838255).