FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Readiness means staying fit, both mentally and physically. That includes refraining from alcohol and substance abuse that could jeopardize a Soldier’s ability to perform in the field.
That’s the drive behind the Army Substance Abuse Program, or ASAP, which helps strengthen the overall fitness and effectiveness of the Army’s workforce, while conserving manpower and enhancing combat readiness of Soldiers.
Unit prevention leaders, or UPLs, are the tip of the spear in facilitating programs at the ground level. Each UPL works closely with command teams to help plan, implement and execute a unit-level substance abuse program that includes random testing of the workforce.
For the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, Staff Sgt. Vontrella Jeffries has excelled in the role, earning recognition in January 2023 as a monthly UPL Award winner for the Fort Detrick and Forest Glen Annex installations.
“I am constantly learning about the Army Substance Abuse Program and its mission to strengthen the overall fitness of the Army workforce,” said Jeffries, who has served as USAMMA UPL for about a year. “It meant a lot to know that I was performing my duties as the unit prevention leader to a high standard.”
Michelle Laska, drug test coordinator for ASAP covering Fort Detrick and Forest Glen in Silver Spring, Maryland, said she started the UPL Awards Program in November 2022 to encourage UPLs to pay closer attention to detail during urinalysis tests.
The awards program is designed to show appreciation and reward UPLs who excel in their duty performance, especially in the fields of establishing, implementing and maintaining their unit’s biochemical testing program.
“It’s to cut down on any possible errors on paperwork and pay attention to not establishing a testing pattern within their units,” Laska said.
In winning the monthly contest this past January, Jeffries maxed out her possible points in each category scored, according to Laska.
Jeffries’ properly filed all required paperwork on time and correctly used “smart testing” procedures to ensure she didn’t create a predictable testing pattern. She also attended a quarterly UPL meeting, which garnered additional points toward the contest.
“Staff Sgt. Jeffries is a conscientious UPL when it comes to ensuring her legal documents are properly filled out,” Laska said. “She understands the legal ramifications if she doesn't conduct a forensically sound urinalysis test.”
USAMMA is a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command, the Army’s life cycle management command for medical materiel. Both units are headquartered at Fort Detrick.