Demand Reduction keeps Whiteman running

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The 509th Bomb Wing Demand Reduction Program at Whiteman Air Force Base has been operating for 20 years to ensure Whiteman succeeds in keeping the community safe and the environment drug-free.

"We randomly test civilian and military personnel for drugs," said James Sales, 509th Bomb Wing demand reduction program manager. Some of the types of testing commanders have available to them are "command-directed, unit sweeps, dorm sweeps, gate checks and consent tests. Demand Reduction serves as a deterrent to drug use, and helps maintain the health and wellness of the fighting force at Whiteman Air Force Base," he said.

Demand Reduction is directed by its Air Force Instruction (AFI) to test military members randomly eight times a month and civilians twice a month. Each morning the DOD test database determines whether it is a random test day or not. If it selected as a test day, the database will produce a list of members assigned to the different units on base to provide a sample.

A notification is sent out to the units' trusted agents, who play a vital role in the overall success of the demand reduction program. Selected members will sign for their notification with instructions to report to the Demand Reduction office within a two-hour time frame to provide a sample.

The chain of custody starts when the member provides the sample until it is quality checked, packaged and shipped. Under normal circumstances it takes 7 to 10 days to receive testing results.

"We test for illegal drugs, as well as prescription medication such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cocaine, heroin, opiates, opioids, amphetamines, morphine, benzodiazepine and spice," Sales said.

Each sample is tested once it reaches the lab. If the sample arrives at the Lackland AFB lab and if the package or sample does not meet specific guidelines for testing that are mandated by the AFI, the sample will be deemed non-testable. It will then be reported by the lab and coded as a non-testable sample.

When the result is "positive" for a prescription medication/drug, it is then reviewed by an appointed medical review officer. If the member has a legal prescription for the medication the test is then reported as a negative result with no further actions required.

"Whether the result is a negative or positive, there is a chain of custody the moment that member provides the sample until the results are identified at the lab and Demand Reduction receives the results," Sales said. There is no question illegal drug usage impacts an individual's career and life, but it can also affect co-workers, family and friends.

"The Air Force has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illegal use of drugs," Sales said. "Every Airman has the right, and wants to work in, a drug free environment. In that sense, commanders, first sergeants, supervisors and members on this base understand the purpose we serve and know it's necessary."

The program is in place to ensure military readiness, maintain good order and discipline. While the goal of the program is to maintain a safe working environment for everyone, its impact is understood and appreciated by the members who maintain the program.

"It's been a pleasurable experience so far," said Master Sgt. Todd Schafer, 509th Bomb Wing drug testing program administrative manager. "I enjoy playing a part to ensure the Air Force upholds a zero-tolerance policy for drug use. The mission depends on Airmen being at their best.