New, stricter drug-testing guidelines for the military are not scaring applicants away, Utah military officials say.
In fact, the tighter restrictions, issued by Congress, are actually attracting more qualified applicants.Maj. Thomas Dellinger, Commander of the Military Entrance Processing Station at Fort Douglas, said he has not experienced a negative reaction from military applicants who come in for the required drug-testing.
"Drug-screening for those seeking military enlistment is still relatively new, but we have not received negative reaction from applicants - although we can't deny that we've had to turn some applicants away," Dellinger said. "But applicants are not being scared away because of the drug-screening program."
Rather than scaring away potential applicants, the drug-testing program may be responsible for producing a better military force.
Sgt. Brett Hardcastle, U.S. Army Reserve Recruiter in Salt Lake City, said the new drug-screening program may be partly in response to drug-related problems in Vietnam. By testing applicants for drug use prior to enlistment, the services may offer more qualified military personnel.
"The military had the foresight to see the problem with drugs," Hardcastle said. "That was one of the major problems in Vietnam. Now, the military is attracting more qualified, higher-educated individuals than in years before. We require a high school diploma or the equivalent and now, with drug-testing, the military is better prepared."
Acting on the orders of Congress, the Defense Department began testing military recruits for drug and alcohol abuse June 1.
The program requires all enlisted recruits as well as officer candidates applying to the military academies and Reserve Officer Training Corps program to be tested for alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
Applicants attempting to join the National Guard and the reserves are also covered by the program.
Under guidelines announced by Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci, applicants who test positive will lose their eligibility to enlist in the military for up to one year, depending upon the drug for which they test positive.
Carlucci stated that positive findings for marijuana and alcohol will result in a six-month ineligibility and positive findings for cocaine will result in a one-year ineligibility. A positive second test on any of the drugs will result in a two-year period of ineligibility.
Military recruits are being tested for drug and alcohol use during pre-enlistment physical examinations using a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test for alcohol detection and urinalysis for marijuana and cocaine detection.