20150128 -- TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - From the time of the Marine Corps’ inception it has upheld the core values of honor, courage and commitment. Those are the traits for which Marines are known, and by which they are expected to live, no matter the circumstance. Over time, the Marine Corps has built a strong reputation as America’s force in readiness. In order to honor that reputation, Marines must remember to uphold every standard set forth by the Corps while in or out of uniform.
Many employers have policies against substance abuse. The Marine Corps enforces a zero tolerance drug policy, which states:
“The illegal distribution, possession or use of drugs is not tolerated in the United States Marine Corps. Furthermore, each instance of illegal drug use by a Marine makes that Marine unfit for duty and a risk to the safety of fellow Marines. It is your responsibility to use all your influence over fellow marines to help avoid involvement with illegal drugs. As a Marine, you are expected to be dedicated to the highest standards of personal conduct and honor.”
Marines are made aware of this policy from the day their recruiter. Alcohol abuse, gambling and substance abuse are all considered forms of addiction and may be brought on by various circumstances in someone’s life, according to the Substance Abuse Control Office. Although is expected of them, there are still programs in place for Marines who stray from policy.
“The programs that are offered to Marines are Prime for Life which is a two-day class. They have online classes on Marinenet and [Marine Online] for substance abuse,” said Sgt. Marya Canizales, assistant Substance Abuse Control Officer, Headquarters Battalion, native of Pasadena, Calif. “The classes provide common knowledge on the usage of different types of [drugs] and lets Marines know the affect it has based off of things like their physical activity, body weight and gender.”
Not only is there a zero tolerance policy on substance abuse in the military, there are also federal laws prohibiting it. There are exceptions in some states where the use of certain drugs is permitted. For instance in the state of California, the use of medicinal marijuana is allowed if it is proven that the patient suffers from certain ailments and that using medicinal marijuana would help alleviate them, according to the Medicinal Marijuana section of the California Department of Public Health website, www.cdph.ca.gov. Despite that fact, the zero tolerance policy on drug use is still in full effect for a member of the armed forces.
“I would talk to [my Marines] and give them my experiences,” said Gunnery Sgt. Victor M. Olivares-Mendoza, SACO, Headquarters Battalion, native of Guadalajara, Mexico. “From seeing either family members or friends use drugs and what it leads to, I would tell them keep away from drugs. They affect not only your career, but it also affects your life, your family and your friends. It can destroy you.”
For Marines struggling with substance abuse, there is always help. Something to keep in mind is that the substance abuse program is put in place to assist those in need. The interactions in the program are from person-to-person, regardless of rank or what someone is struggling with, the participants of the program will always be treated with dignity and as a person who needs help, according to Canizales.
“[If you need help] you can visit either the base SACOs or you can go to the individual battalion representative,” Canizales said. “We have information when it comes to receiving assistance for self-help classes, [alcohol assistance] classes and different types of treatments.”