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SACOs help Marines kick substance abuse habits

10 Jul 2014 | Ameesha Felton

The Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center wants Marines who are struggling with a drinking or a drug problem to know they have a direct path out of that trap.

Each unit provides a designated Substance Abuse Control Officer, who can evaluate Marines and set them on a path to recovery by referring them to the right services. SACOs are not legal or law enforcement, but civilian and military members who simply take care of Marines.

Even though SACOs report directly to commanding officers regarding substance abuse issues, Pamela Moment, drug demand reduction coordinator at CSACC, said details about a Marine’s issue are kept confidential. The command will only know that a Marine is receiving services.

"Normally when someone is having a substance abuse issue, there are other underlying concerns going on," said Silbert Grant, SACO at Headquarters
and Service Battalion. "So we let them know that, ‘we understand you’re a Marine, but we’re approaching you from a personal perspective to ensure you get the care that’s needed.’"

Grant is a retired Marine gunnery sergeant and combat veteran who not only brings skills learned while serving in the Corps but also compassion and empathy.

"If a Marine is stressed because he’s on Temporary Additional Duty and away from his family, I get that, because I’ve been there myself," Grant said.

"In our battalion, I’m like the distant uncle who says, ‘what’s going on with you?’ and they open up to me," he said.

Moment encourages Marines to be proactive and take advantage of the benefits SACOs provide before a problem worsens.

"With the ‘101 Days of Summer’ in full swing, we know some Marines are drinking more, engaging in riskier behavior and experiencing substance abuse-related incidents," Moment said. "It’s important for Marines to know the SACO is available. It’s often a thankless job but such an integral aspect of a Marine’s life and continued Marine Corps career."

To contact Grant, call 703-432-1474 or email, silbert.grant@usmc.mil. For information regarding SACOs at other units, call CSACC at 703-784-3502.

— Writer: afelton@quanticosentryonline.com


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