Monday, January 24, 2011
Substance abuse among people who serve in the armed forces is a major problem, especially since the current war era started in 2001. Soldiers are coming back from the war, in some cases, with problems like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and combat stress. Often those problems will lead people down a dark road, where alcohol and drugs become a typical option for coping. The director of Camp Pendleton’s Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center, retired Marine John Veneziano, said the staff saw about 2,100 clients last year for alcohol and substance abuse screenings, including about 36 a week who entered treatment. Fortunately, those 36 people a week are receiving help for their problems, but sadly, many soldiers lose their lives before a problem is recognized and help is sought.
Last Halloween at Camp Pendleton, a marine drank himself to death right before deploying back to Afghanistan. The night ended abruptly when Lance Cpl. Sean Conley, a 23-year-old helicopter mechanic, was helped to his room by friends after drinking too many liquor and energy drink "bombs". Conely was later found on a bench on the barracks' veranda, unconscious. Lives are cut short all the time by people abusing drugs and alcohol to the limit, despite the armed forces attempt at cracking down on the problem. Soldiers are great at helping their comrades in the fields of battle; however, stateside it is a different story.
The wave of heavy drinking in the last decade is a side-effect of the stress caused by constant combat deployments overseas, according to the sergeant major of the Marine Corps and top enlisted Marine, Carlton Kent. “Marines take care of one another on the battlefield, and we must ensure we’re doing the same in garrison. Alcohol abuse is a serious matter and is a great concern. In addition to involved leadership, education is key, so we must ensure our Marines understand the dangers and consequences of alcohol abuse,” Kent said.