ASAP Empowers Prevention for Healthier Army Communities

By Rachel Rachfal, Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and ReadinessFebruary 27, 2024

Col. Kent Park, center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord commander, cuts the ribbon to officially open the new community park on Lewis Main Sept. 21. He was joined by Col. Brandon Sokora, center left, JBLM deputy commander; Charles Markham, far left, director of JBLM’s Directorate of Public Works; Command Sgt. Maj. Kenne Hanson, second from right, JBLM command sergeant major; and community mayors from across the installation.
Col. Kent Park, center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord commander, cuts the ribbon to officially open the new community park on Lewis Main Sept. 21. He was joined by Col. Brandon Sokora, center left, JBLM deputy commander; Charles Markham, far left, director of JBLM’s Directorate of Public Works; Command Sgt. Maj. Kenne Hanson, second from right, JBLM command sergeant major; and community mayors from across the installation. (Photo Credit: Pamela Sleezer) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Army Substance Abuse Program isn’t just about responding to substance misuse; ASAP is at the forefront of shaping a resilient Army community through strategic prevention initiatives. Beyond reacting, ASAP is committed to forging a robust and healthy force.

“The Army is actively attempting to eliminate stigmas surrounding help-seeking behaviors, meaning that it is clearly a sign of strength, not weakness,” says Polly J. Guthrie, M.Ed., LADC, CEAP, SAP, MAC, ICAADC, ASAP manager at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. This ethos is embedded in ASAP prevention initiatives, where seeking help is viewed as a proactive and powerful step toward building resilience.

ASAP prevention initiatives extend to comprehensive training programs designed to equip Army personnel with the knowledge and tools needed to prevent substance misuse. Guthrie says, “When someone can self-identify issues or needs within themselves, that person comes forward to ask for help.” These training sessions, conducted regularly throughout the year, cover a range of topics, from understanding the risks associated with substance use to building resilience against the pressures that military service may bring.

“ASAP partners with other on-post agencies and chaplains to teach help-seeking behaviors through training events and Ready and Resilient resource fairs. We highly encourage all prevention efforts and activities for service members,” says Guthrie. Through collaborative efforts, ASAP ensures that Soldiers have access to a network of support, fostering a culture where help-seeking behaviors are actively encouraged and embraced.

Guthrie says, “With the ability to match needs with resources, an individual has a greater likelihood of not only asking for help but to ensure the need is matched with the most appropriate resource. This further strengthens self-efficacy and all prevention efforts.” ASAP’s commitment to matching individual needs with the right resources strengthens the proactive approach to prevention, creating a culture where Soldiers and their Families feel empowered to address challenges early on.

By embracing ASAP’s proactive initiatives, Soldiers and their Families contribute to a community that prioritizes health, well-being and readiness. Through collective awareness, education and support, ASAP continues to be vital in fortifying the Army against the challenges of substance misuse, fostering a legacy of strength and resilience.

ASAP extends beyond formal training sessions, reaching into the daily lives of Soldiers and their Families. Outreach programs and informational campaigns are strategically deployed to instill a constant awareness of the importance of proactive prevention. By integrating prevention messages into the fabric of Army life, ASAP ensures that the community remains vigilant for pitfalls of substance misuse.

Soldiers actively engaged in ASAP prevention initiatives become ambassadors of resilience within the larger Army community. As they model the importance of proactive help-seeking behaviors, there is a ripple effect across units, creating a culture where seeking assistance is not only accepted but celebrated. This positive shift in mindset contributes significantly to breaking down barriers and reducing the stigma associated with addressing substance misuse.

By embracing a culture where help-seeking behaviors are encouraged, Soldiers and their Families actively contribute to the collective strength of the force. Through ongoing education, collaboration and the strategic deployment of resources, ASAP continues to lead the charge in fortifying the Army community against the challenges of substance misuse. To read more about ASAP and how it can help you and your community, click here.