Six station Marines participated in the Substance Abuse Control Officerâ€™s training last week.
All SACOâ€™s Marine Corps wide are required to attend 40 hours of training prior to assuming the position.
â€œFor some itâ€™s a full-time position, for others is a collateral duty,â€ said Virgil S. Tapispisan, station Drug Demand Reduction Program coordinator. â€œRegardless of their situation we train everyone the same.â€
Training is held quarterly for all new SACOâ€™s, but all current SACOâ€™s are invited and encouraged to attend for a refresher.
â€œWe always welcome them to come back to training,â€ said Tapispisan, who is in charge of making sure all station SACOâ€™s are up-to-date on training. â€œBecause things are always changing we meet up every other month to discuss our progress, issues each unit is facing and solutions for those issues.â€
The week long course covers what it takes to be a SACO.
â€œThere are a lot of misconceptions about what a SACO does,â€ Tapispisan added. â€œMany people think itâ€™s only conducting urinalyses, but thatâ€™s really only about 20 percent of what they do.â€
Other portions of the SACO duties are treatment for those Marines who do suffer from substance abuse issues, this accounts for about 60 percent of their work, and the other 20 percent goes toward prevention.
â€œMost of the SACOâ€™s are recommended by their commanding officers for this position because of their expressed desire to help Marines,â€ said Tapispisan. â€œThis training is so important because these Marines are entrusted with other Marines personal information and case files. Especially with urinalysis, every time a SACO collects a sample they are holding that Marines career in their hands.â€
During the training oncoming SACOâ€™s cover their duties and responsibilities, drug testing procedures, Battalion Alcohol Intervention Curriculum, treatment requirements and community resources like suicide prevention, health promotion, legal, victim advocacy and more.
â€œThis group is very enthusiastic,â€ said Tapispisan. â€œMany of them have seen these issues within their families and friends and want to help their fellow Marines get out of or stay away from these situations. I like this kind of attitude, it makes for great SACOâ€™s.â€
For more information on resources available regarding substance abuse contact your unit substance abuse control officer or the Drug Demand Reduction Program at 928-269-2791.