CORPUS CHRISTI ARMY DEPOT, Texas - Florida native and Army veteran Brian Orlando is a Substance Abuse Program Specialist at Corpus Christi Army Depot who enjoys making a difference.
Orlando's journey with the Army started in 2005. Although he felt himself called to duty much earlier —during the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Once he decided to join the Army, he found himself at the recruiting office in 2003. Following the 9/11 attacks, approximately 181,500 Americans enlisted in the military, which the Department of Defense notes as an 8% increase in interest in joining the Army during the decade after the attacks.
As a 13B or Cannon Crewmember, Orlando worked with Howitzers, a technologically advanced weapons system that supported infantry and tank units. Before leaving the Army in 2013, Orlando served in Hawaii, Korea, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The former artilleryman credits the Army with providing him with training, discipline, and camaraderie. While on active duty, Orlando was a collateral duty unit prevention leader.
“I was a substance abuse program specialist, drug test coordinator testing civilians and military” he said. “Now, I teach employees about suicide and drug and alcohol prevention."
Recently, Orlando represented the depot at a local elementary school career day. Metro Elementary School of Design wanted to help students understand drug abuse, drug addiction and the importance of drug avoidance while safeguarding their future. During his visit, Orlando told them, "If you stay drug-free, maybe you’ll work at CCAD or join the Army when you are older."
According to Metro School Counselor Josie Licon, another goal was to familiarize the students with career and education opportunities within the Corpus Christi community. Licon said that she wanted to "Expose the students to the vocabulary of their future." Other participants were the Corpus Christi Police Department, the Corpus Christi Fire Department, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Making a difference motivates Orlando. The safety of CCAD’s test pilots, artisans and all employees are his top priority. Drug awareness campaigns aid in keeping employees aware of the ramifications of drug use. Employees knowing the cause and effects of drugs and alcohol over time and the impact on the job are vital.
"I still love doing what I'm doing” Orlando said. “If you get one person you know, pass on the knowledge to them about the importance of not abusing drugs and alcohol — that's a win. The work [at CCAD] is earnest, and pilots' lives are at stake. So, everything has to be done by the book, and everything here is systematic. Staying healthy and drug-free is important because one little thing can cause a helicopter mishap."