FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Counselors at the Army Substance Abuse Program have a message for Soldiers: they're here to help.

"We're all about helping," said Kim Henry, manager of ASAP.

Henry said Fort Carson has 26 ASAP counselors dedicated to supporting Soldiers who may be struggling.

"We are not punitive," she said. "I think that's the biggest message I would like cleared up -- we are not punitive."

For Henry and the ASAP counselors, their main mission is to help Soldiers identify the cause of their substance abuse and work with Soldiers on alternative ways to deal with those root causes.

ASAP, temporarily located in building 1351, began as an Armywide initiative in 1971 to provide guidance to the Army community as well as treatment resources.

"The Army Substance Abuse Program is geared towards Soldiers, Family members, retirees and (Department of Defense) civilians," Henry said.

Family, retirees and DOD civilians may seek assistance through the Employee Assistance Program, which offers up to four sessions to those struggling with personal or work-related issues.

Soldiers have access to an array of programs, including alcohol education, therapy groups and treatment options.

ASAP counselors at Fort Carson also offer the Confidential Alcohol Treatment and Education Pilot, one of six pilot programs in the Army that allows Soldiers to self-refer for problems with alcohol abuse.

"Soldiers can self-refer for alcohol only, without an incident, after hours, so there's no command involvement at all," Henry said. "We have about 35 seeking help that way. I think it's been very successful."

Henry stressed that Soldiers may self-refer themselves for help for any substance abuse without fear of reprisal from commanders.

"A self-referral is for the Soldier to come and ask for help. Could they be chaptered? They could. … We want Soldiers to come and seek help," Henry said. "Sometimes it's been said that 'I'm going to send you to ASAP because you're in trouble.' No. That's not what we're here for. We're here as a helping agency and want to provide that service for all those eligible."

Henry said that Soldiers who self-refer will have the commander fill out and sign a form and then report to ASAP for an initial screening. Soldiers then go through a second, more intense, screening process to determine the best course of action.

"The decision is made to place them in some form of treatment program (which typically last 12 months) or maybe they just need education, then we provide the education," Henry said, adding that counselors follow up with all Soldiers who self-refer for 12 months.

In addition to one-on-one counseling options, ASAP counselors provide group therapy programs focused on specific issues like dealing with grief and post-traumatic stress disorder.

ASAP counselors at Fort Carson offer an art therapy group as an alternative treatment.

Counselors also facilitate the Suicide Prevention and Risk Reduction programs.

The programs seem to be helping, with recidivism rates at Fort Carson down to 1 percent. However, Henry said those numbers may be skewed since ASAP counselors cannot follow up with Soldiers who leave Fort Carson for another post.

"I think the Army's (recidivism rate) is 3 percent," Henry said.

Although counselors may not be able to follow up with Soldiers once they leave, ASAP facilities are available at all Army posts.

Page last updated Thu January 5th, 2012 at 00:00