The No. 1 priority of Gen. James McConville, the 40th chief of staff of the Army, is people. McConville believes that when we take care of the Army’s people, we are building readiness and a cohesive team that is trained, disciplined and fit to fight.
The U.S. Army Materiel Command has seven strategic focus areas. The U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM), as a subordinate command to Materiel Command, is the primary lead on two of the seven strategic support areas (soldier and family readiness, and installation readiness) and support to a third (strategic power projection).
Furthermore, IMCOM’s enduring priorities are soldier/family programs, infrastructure, support to training and protection. IMCOM’s work at its headquarters, installation directorates and garrisons builds communities and prepares them for complex operations.
It is important for IMCOM to communicate capabilities in supporting the nation, the Army, soldiers and their families. One of these capabilities is IMCOM’s Ready and Resilient/Army Substance Abuse Program (R2/ASAP) Division. This division supports the Army’s strategic priority of soldier and family readiness and IMCOM’s enduring priority of soldier and family readiness programs.
The R2/ASAP Division exemplifies a cohesive team that is trained, disciplined and fit to serve the Total Army. Through hard work and dedication to Army strategic objectives, the R2/ASAP team labors collaboratively and tirelessly to ensure that garrison service providers are equipped to take care of people.
The R2/ASAP Division is aligned under IMCOM’s Human Resources Directorate. R2/ASAP encompasses multiple programs with a focus on preventing high-risk behaviors, deterring unhealthy living choices and assisting warfighters, retirees, Army civilians and family members with these challenges. The proponent for the programs is the Army Resilience Directorate. IMCOM executes the programs at the garrison level worldwide.
These programs support command teams’ ability to see the soldiers, communities and installations within their formations. In the majority of cases, R2/ASAP functions fall under the direct supervision of the garrison Alcohol and Drug Control Officer. These officers’ unique skills and training in the substance abuse program and overarching knowledge of all Army Substance Abuse Program core functions allow them to manage those programs to positively impact readiness.
The services are aligned within the continuum of deterrence, prevention and assistance. Deterrence is primarily achieved with drug testing. Prevention efforts include risk reduction, suicide prevention and other readiness and resilience programs. Assistance is associated with the Employee Assistance Program.
Synchronization through the Commanders Ready and Resilient Council ensures strategic integration and collaboration of health promotion that supports readiness and resiliency at the operational level. Chaired by the senior commander, the council includes the garrison commander, hospital commander, brigade/battalion commanders and appropriate subject-matter experts from across the installation.
The council process integrates garrison, medical and mission efforts that support readiness and resiliency. The council provides a mechanism to raise systemic issues and give commanders at every echelon the flexibility to balance readiness and quality of life, and ensures the efficient management of health promotion, risk reduction and suicide prevention efforts.
The council process can act as the epicenter of support for readiness and resiliency, which was exemplified recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Commanders Ready and Resilient Council members in Germany identified an issue and coordinated support for community members impacted by a DoD stop-movement order and changes to their permanent change of station. Working with garrison programs was the first step to identify who was affected by the order.
Then, program managers established a virtual warehouse of information to keep those who were affected informed. Each individual was contacted to determine needs, then lines of communication for leadership, soldiers and family members were established. The council process also created a community task force wellness effort in response to the pandemic. The task force ensured a smooth synchronized effort by the community.
Drug abuse is inconsistent with Army values and readiness. The abuse of illicit drugs can impair performance and negatively impact the readiness of military personnel and civilian employees.
Garrison drug testing focuses on elements pertaining to readiness and resiliency by:
- Executing civilian employee preemployment and random drug testing.
- Enabling commanders to assess the security, military fitness and good order and discipline of their units to use the information to take appropriate disciplinary or other administrative actions.
- Advocating for a safe, healthful, productive workplace that is free from illegal use, possession or distribution of controlled substances by its civilian workforce.
These efforts are mandated by public law, presidential directives and/or secretary of defense memoranda. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, garrison drug testing programs, as well as forensic toxicology drug testing laboratories, continue to provide services to strengthen and promote the readiness and resiliency of the total workforce.
The prevention services’ mission is to reduce and prevent the abuse/misuse of alcohol and other drugs. Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinators partner with schools and civic, civilian and military organizations to implement targeted, data-driven prevention initiatives specific to the needs of an installation. Interventions are analyzed annually for effectiveness and revised accordingly. Prevention coordinators provide training in support of drug testing, pre-/post-deployment and evidence-based alcohol/drug prevention courses for soldiers and civilians who have substance abuse-related incidences.
During the pandemic, Army Substance Abuse Program specialists at Fort Carson, Colorado, maximized substance abuse and suicide awareness training for over 783 individuals. Program specialists responded to calls from commanders seeking recommendations on ways to reduce soldiers’ high-risk behaviors.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to honestly say the [Army Substance Abuse Program] prevention team has been busier than ever,” said Anthony McCollin, Fort Carson prevention services chief. The team was recently selected for the 30th Annual Secretary of Defense Community Drug Awareness Award in recognition of its exemplary drug demand reduction efforts for the Fort Carson community.
Risk Reduction Program
The Risk Reduction Program is executed by the Army Substance Abuse Program Risk Reduction Program coordinator. The program is a commander’s program that provides a common operating picture of unit and soldier risk data. The information is displayed in the commander’s risk reduction toolkit, which is housed in the larger Army Vantage system.
The toolkit provides command teams, at all echelons, with the ability to see unit risk data as well as unit historical risk trends. At the battalion and company command levels, the toolkit provides additional detailed information in the form of soldier-specific, personally identifiable information and protected health information data. The toolkit will also provide battalion- and company-level command teams the ability to see newly assigned soldiers and their risk history.
This system is not intended to be used in a punitive manner; it is designed to assist command teams and promote and foster engaged leadership. The commander’s risk reduction toolkit will position leaders to better assist and support soldiers and their families. Having situational awareness will facilitate early intervention for soldiers facing personal or professional challenges, or potential crises. Earlier informed intervention drastically increases the chance for positive outcomes.
Amy Kilionski at Fort Drum, New York, is an outstanding example of a Risk Reduction Program coordinator. Kilionski is proactive in her approach to data analysis and her interaction with command teams on Fort Drum. Her knowledge, skills, abilities and outstanding customer service set her program apart.
Suicide Prevention Program
The Suicide Prevention Program is carried out by the Suicide Prevention Program manager within the Army Substance Abuse Program. Suicide continues to be a challenge for all military branches. Garrison Suicide Prevention Program managers are charged with overseeing the program for Army soldiers, civilians and family members.
Suicide is a tragedy that has a profound impact on unit readiness, cohesion and morale. The Suicide Prevention Program executes its mission through education and training in three phases: prevention, intervention and “post-vention.” Suicide Prevention Program managers are trained staff members of the Army Substance Abuse Program and are the senior commanders’ subject-matter experts on suicide prevention matters.
They chair the suicide prevention task force (which may be referred to by other names) on behalf of the commander and are key members of other working groups with similar missions. They work in collaboration with chaplains, behavioral health professionals, master resilience trainers and others who function within the resiliency and suicide prevention realm.
Kenya King and Stephanie Bright of Fort Hood, Texas, run a forward-leaning program. They are constantly engaging Fort Hood senior leaders to advise them on suicide prevention. They have a suicide prevention trainers tracker with documented guidance supported by the senior mission commander. They coach, teach and mentor trainers, which allows them to ensure the full capacity and capability of training in the Fort Hood community.
Sexual assault is a criminal offense that has no place in the Army. It degrades mission readiness by devastating the Army’s ability to work effectively as a team. Sexual assault is incompatible with Army values and is punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and other federal and local civilian laws. Via the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, known as SHARP, the Army uses training, education and awareness to:
- Minimize sexual assault.
- Promote the sensitive handling of victims of sexual assault.
- Offer victim assistance and counseling.
- Hold those who commit sexual assault offenses accountable.
- Provide confidential avenues for reporting.
- Reinforce a commitment to Army values.
The Army treats victims of sexual assault with dignity, fairness and respect.
Every reported sexual assault incident is taken seriously by following proper guidelines. The information and circumstances of the allegations are disclosed in a sensitive manner on a need-to-know basis.
Employee Assistance Program
The Employee Assistance Program provides an array of services to employees, managers and supervisors. The program is staffed by Employee Assistance Program coordinators. These coordinators provide free and confidential screening/assessment, short-term counseling and referral services for:
- Substance abuse.
- Mental health.
- Marital issues.
- Financial issues.
- Other work-life problems that may affect the conduct, performance or personal well-being of employees.
Individuals who seek Employee Assistance Program services are afforded considerable privacy through laws, policies and limits of confidentiality. Employee Assistance Program coordinators adhere to a strong code of professional ethics and are required to obtain certification through the International Employee Assistance Professionals Association.
Employee Assistance Program coordinators provide consultation to managers on organizational restructuring, change or any other condition that may have an adverse effect on the workforce environment. Mediation services can be used to facilitate organizational communication, promote early problem resolution and de-escalation of work-related issues.
Employee Assistance Program coordinators are available to provide training to supervisors and employees on a variety of topics, including early problem identification and referral, responsible use of alcohol, signs and symptoms of substance abuse, conflict resolution, stress reduction and anger management.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Employee Assistance Program coordinators have maintained their viability by providing telecounseling services and using technological platforms to deliver information, resources and guidance pertinent to the current environment.
Throughout the pandemic, Employee Assistance Program coordinator Calvin Lidmark has continued to provide almost business-as-usual in-person screening/assessment and short-term counseling services for Army civilians at Fort Carson. Utilizing office space at Evans Army Community Hospital, Lidmark has been able to see clients while implementing proper safety protocols.
“COVID-19 was definitely a work-life stressor I worked through with clients,” Lidmark said. Throughout the pandemic, leaders and managers contacted Employee Assistance Program coordinators to obtain resources and tools to effectively support the workforce despite the unusual environmental conditions.
IMCOM’s R2/ASAP programs at the garrison level are force multipliers. These programs directly support soldiers, family members and civilians by improving their readiness and resilience. Leaders and soldiers armed with knowledge through utilization of these programs will ensure people come first and support leadership in the Army’s mission to fight and win our nation’s wars.
Contributing to this article, from the U.S. Army Installation Management Command Directorate for Personnel’s Ready and Resilient/Army Substance Abuse Program Division, were: Donna Clouse, chief of the Prevention Support Branch; Derek Ferrell, Suicide Prevention and Risk Reduction Program manager; Fran Measells, Employee Assistance Program manager; Joyce Perry, Drug Testing Program manager; Leslie Sweeney, Ready and Resilient integrator; and Paul Smith, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program manager.