PEARL CITY, Hawai’i - Eleven Soldiers from the Hawai’i Army National Guard (HIARNG) graduated from the Unit Prevention Leader (UPL) course, 14-15 November, 2022, Pearl City, HI.
The UPL Certification Training includes instruction on drug testing procedures, and prevention of illicit drugs. The HIARNG selects Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) of E-5 and above to successfully complete the UPL Certification Training.
As a certified UPL, these NCO’s are expected to be the Commander’s subject matter expert on all areas of ASAP and at the Commander’s discretion, provide illicit drug training to the Unit and assist the Commander in the administration of the prevention activities.
The training was extended for over two days, a total of 16 hours, to educate the UPL students on meeting the requirements of coordinating drug testing and providing assistance to their respective Commanders and their Units.
Over the course of the training Soldiers learned the topics of drug testing, appropriate responsibilities, policies, forms, referral process, rehabilitation programs, prevention education activities, and separation procedures.
“My goal is to ensure that the students are getting all the pertinent information they’re going to need to accomplish their mission.” says Sgt. 1st Class Thomas A. Foster, the drug testing coordinator for HIARNG, regional lead, and instructor for the course, “I train them on how to collect the specimens, what to look for, collection, paperwork, training their observers, we also go over issues they may come across, they do a practical exercise, and take an end of the course test. Upon passing, the students become certified UPL’s.”
The Hawai’i Army National Guard Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) has been ranked number 1 out of 54 states and territories since October 2021.
“At the Unit level, the soldiers are doing a great job running their test efficiently, smoothly, and collecting as much as they can.” says Foster, “Part of our ranking is the fact that we have a lot of trained UPL’s, getting all of their soldiers trained up in the course.”
By providing substance awareness education and leaders who possess unimpeachable moral character the HIARNG, Hawaii has been taking the charge when it comes to having the highest percentages in consistent testing, minimal deficiencies, and the most trained UPL’s.
“I appreciate that we receive realistic up-to-date information,” says Sgt. 1st Class Denise B. Chincio, a Medical Readiness NCO and student of the course, “such as updates to over the counter medications that may cause positive test results.”
“Something to maintain in the course is it being hands-on,” says Staff Sgt. Aileen Taman, a Aircraft Powertrain Repairer and another student of the course, “The information was put in a way where it was easy to understand.”
The Army Substance Abuse Program mission is to strengthen the overall fitness and effectiveness of the Army's workforce, to conserve manpower and enhance the combat readiness of Soldiers.
The utmost goal of the training is to educate Soldiers on how to properly be a Unit Prevention leader and to help to reduce the number of positive drug results accomplished at the unit/squadron level.
“It truly is an honor being the drug testing coordinator,” says Foster, “I’m pleased to be part of the process to help mitigate and curb our soldiers' usage. I just wish that Soldiers would make an effort to seek help and ask for guidance rather than turn to drugs.”