WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- Soldiers who meet specific criteria can now self-refer themselves to the Confidential Alcohol Treatment and Education Program, or CATEP, without notifying their commanders.

As part of a four-month test, designated pilot locations have been authorized to offer two options to specific Soldiers who want to participate in CATEP. Schofield Barracks is one of six test locations chosen because of its sufficient counseling and educational capacity to handle self-referrals and because of its high deployment rates.

According to the new policy, outlined in Operation Order, or OPORD, 11-538, while Soldiers are in CATEP treatment, they "are not vulnerable to suspension of favorable actions or subject to adverse personnel actions strictly because of their enrollment" in CATEP, part of the Army Substance Abuse Program, or ASAP.

"We are firmly committed to improving the overall health of the community here and to reducing instances of alcohol abuse and dependency," said Dr. James Slobodzien, the Clinical Program Manager of ASAP. "This new pilot program recognizes that Soldiers with alcohol abuse problems affect both military readiness and family well-being. CATEP gives Soldiers another opportunity to get help and spare themselves from adverse administrative or personnel actions that might interfere with their military career."

Two CATEP options provide career protections based on the Soldier's military occupational specialty, but participation requires participants to sign an informed consent contract. The contract ensures Soldiers receive treatment and comply with their treatment plan.

Option A amends the need to notify commanders when certain Soldiers -- military police, Criminal Investigation Division personnel, firefighters not assigned to deployable units, firefighters not in units with firefighting duties, Soldiers with security clearances, in Aviation or in the Personnel Reliability Program -- are found to have an alcohol problem.

Option B provides a modified pilot; however, commanders must be notified. Some career protections are provided. Option B applies to medical, clinical and health care Soldiers, as well as firefighters who are assigned to deployable units, firefighters in units with firefighting duties, Aviation Soldiers, and Soldiers in the Personnel Reliability Program.

Criteria for both options are specified in OPORD 11-538.

Some Soldiers are not eligible for the CATEP pilot, including Soldiers with a blotter or alcohol-related incident within the past 12 months, Soldiers who have a problem with prescription drugs, and Soldiers who have had rehabilitation care for drug abuse in the past 12 months, among other categories.

"The Installation Management Command, or IMCOM, is administering the CATEP pilot. Overall, our goal is to encourage and increase self-referrals to ASAP by Soldiers whose alcohol misuse has not reached the point of requiring a mandatory referral," said Pamela Jinnohara, ASAP manager.

ASAP is open Monday through Friday to support Soldiers. Its CATEP treatment plans may last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, all with the aim to meet the challenges of military readiness while supporting Soldier and family well-being.

ASAP hours of operation

Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and for confidential treatment, 4:30 -- 8:00 p.m., Monday- Thursday. Call (808) 433-8700 or 433-8708.