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Mandatory Drug Testing

Drug Testing

Mandatory drug testing in the military

Mandatory drug testing in the military is a direct result of the American troops who smoked pot while stationed in Vietnam , says independent healthcare journal The Bandolier. According to a story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, a suspicious number of aircraft collisions into carrier decks in the 1970s led the U.S. Navy to start screening their boys for drugs. The mandatory drug testing proved almost 50 percent of those who crashed were positive for pot.


Thus the U.S. military instituted mandatory drug testing in 1981. The drop in substance abuse was immediate; the National Bureau of Economic Research reports rates fell from 27.6 percent in 1980 to 3.4 percent in 1994.

Ever since, the military has had a strict, zero tolerance drug policy. Troops on active duty are required to have a urinalysis at least once a year and members of the National Guard and Army Reserves are required to test at least once every two years.

The Department of Defense, whose laboratories test 60,000 urine samples every month, handles all military drug testing. Every member of the military is subject to random screening. A Marine, for example, can be chosen for testing in a number of ways - in a unit sweep, by consent, under order by a commanding officer, due to probable cause, etc. Any Marine can be ordered to undergo a random urinalysis at any time and 10 percent of Marines are randomly tested each month.

All five branches of the U.S. Military require mandatory drug testing during the entry medical exam. The Navy makes new recruits take two urinalysis tests. They also conduct a thorough investigation into your drug and alcohol history with the stringent advice to "answer all questions honestly."

The Air Force randomly tests its members with drug-specific tests. According to the Air Force publication AIRMAN, it runs its tests at unexpected times and in surprise locations - like at the front gate after midnight on a weekend. Air Force commanders also lead dormitory inspections at night and on the weekends to help find and prevent drug use within the ranks.

The consequences are severe if you are caught abusing drugs in the military. In the Army, you can face dishonorable discharge and lose all your military benefits. You will be referred to counseling, and even subjected to disciplinary action.

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