PEARL CITY, Hawai’i – Eleven Hawai’i Army National Guard (HIARNG) Soldiers completed the Unit Prevention Leader (UPL) course November 14-15, 2022 in Pearl City, HI.
UPL certification training includes instruction on drug testing procedures and illicit drug prevention. The HIARNG selects NCOs from E-5 and above to successfully complete UPL certification training.
As a certified UPL, these non-commissioned officers are expected to be the commander’s subject matter experts in all areas of ASAP and provide training on illicit drugs at the discretion of the unit commander and assist the commander in the management of prevention activities.
The training was extended by more than two days, totaling 16 hours, to teach UPL students how to meet drug testing coordination requirements and provide support to their respective commanders and their units.
Over the course of the training, Soldiers learned about drug testing, appropriate responsibilities, policies, forms, referral procedures, rehabilitation programs, prevention education activities, and separation procedures.
“My goal is to ensure that students receive all the relevant information they need to complete their mission,” says Sgt. 1st Class Thomas A. Foster, drug testing coordinator for HIARNG, regional director and instructor for the course : “I teach them how to collect the specimens, what to look out for, collection, paperwork, training their observers, we also go over problems they encounter, they do a practical exercise and take a test at the end of the course . Upon passing, students become certified UPLs.”
The Hawaii Army National Guard Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) is ranked #1 out of 54 states and territories as of October 2021.
“At the unit level, the soldiers are doing a great job, running their tests efficiently and smoothly, and collecting as much as possible,” says Foster, “Part of our ranking is the fact that we have a lot of trained UPLs that have all of their soldiers trained on the course .”
By providing substance awareness education and leaders possessing unimpeachable moral character, the HIARNG, Hawaii has taken responsibility when it comes to having the highest percentages on consistent testing, minimal deficiencies, and the most highly educated UPLs.
“I appreciate that we’re getting realistic and up-to-date information,” says Sgt. 1st Class Denise B. Chincio, a medical readiness corporal and student on the course, “e.g. B. Over-the-counter medication updates that may result in positive test results.”
“One thing that needs to be maintained in the course is that it is practical,” says Staff Sgt. Aileen Taman, an aircraft powertrain repair shop and another student on the course. “The information was formulated in a way that was easy to understand.”
The mission of the Army Substance Abuse Program is to increase the Army’s overall fitness and effectiveness, conserve manpower and improve Soldiers’ combat readiness.
The ultimate goal of the training is to train Soldiers on how to properly be a unit prevention leader and help reduce the number of positive drug results at the unit/squadron level.
“It is truly an honor to be the drug testing coordinator,” says Foster, “I am excited to be part of the process designed to help mitigate and curb our soldiers’ use. I just wish the soldiers would make an effort to seek help and ask for advice instead of resorting to drugs.”