News>Feature - Shaw's drug testing: The facts, rumors, myths
Airman 1st Class Jamari Smith, 20th Componet Maintenance Squadron electronic welfare, goes through his paper work after a random drug test here June 8, 2011. The demand reduction drug facility is located next to the medical clinic here and tests about 50 to 100 people a day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Gardner/ Released)
Tech. Sgt. Kimberly Mahan, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordinance disposal technician, walks down the hall with her sample after a random drug test here June 8, 2011. The demand reduction drug facility is located next to the medical clinic here and tests about 50 to 100 people a day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Gardner/ Released)
Maj. Daniel McAffee, 20th Operations Support Squadron current operations flight commander, receives instructions after a random drug test here June 8, 2011. The demand reduction drug facility is located next to the medical clinic here and tests about 50 to 100 people a day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Gardner/ Released)
by Senior Airman Alexandria Mosness
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/10/2011 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Some things are constant in an Airman's career, such as changes of command, promotions and drug testing.
Drug testing is one of the many responsibilities Airmen face. While it might seem like a pain, it takes a lot of hard work to keep military personnel tested.
Shaw's Drug Demand Reduction takes the huge responsibility of testing approximately 7,000 military members annually, and they do this to perfection.
"We have to be 100-percent accurate," said Angela Copeland, DDR program manager. "This is why there is so much emphasis on the verification process for the specimen. We know it is peoples' careers at stake, so we verify and re-verify throughout the entire process. The member will watch us even seal the bottle, so that they know it has not been tampered with."
This keeps everything legal in case of a court-martial, added J.T. Harrison, DDR drug testing program administrative manager.
Although urinalysis is not a fun task, it is part of the commitment each individual makes to the Air Force.
"The drug testing helps maintain the integrity of our Air Force and what is expected of all Airmen," Harrison said. "We have to maintain a higher standard. Our mission is to fight and deploy, so we have to be a ready force."
At the DDR office, Copeland runs into some wild ideas about some of the processes that occur, she said.
"You do not get picked because you just came off of leave or temporary duty," Copeland added. "The selection process is completely random. The computer picks the names, and all we do is push the button. We do not put all the samples in one batch and call everyone back only if that batch is positive. That would be a waste of manpower and supplies."
While there are many myths, Copeland did have some things for service members to heed and remember.
"Make sure any medications you get off base are annotated in your medical records," Copeland added. "As for controlled substances, your prescription is only good for 60 days. After that, you must throw it out. If not, and it is found after a urinalysis, you can be court-martialed."
Another rumor is that officers don't get selected for drug testing.
Harrison said this is anything but true.
"Let me squash the rumors about rank," he said. "Both the 9th Air Force commander and 20th Fighter Wing commander have been in here. So, everyone has to do it."
As for supplements, Copeland advised to check with your primary care manager to make sure it is okay to take.
The Air Force has banned the use of the drug "spice," and Copeland wanted Airmen to know that the Air Force can test for the drug. While it might not be illegal in all states, it is prohibited if you are in the military, she said.
There have also been some recent changes to the Air Force Instruction 44-120, that the DDR office uses.
"The military member cannot have any genital piercings," Copeland said. "If they have the piercings, it must be removed before coming to the DDR office."
With the Air Force's strict standards against drug abuse, the DDR deters people from making the wrong choices.
"This program helps prevent members from using drugs and helps keep the Air Force safe," Copeland said.