by Pam Zubeck
What with the Army's conclusion that many suicides are linked to alcohol abuse, a new program has been launched to allow soldiers to seek alcohol treatment confidentially.
Both of Colorado's Democratic senators — Mark Udall and Michael Bennet — were behind an effort to expand the program to Fort Carson. The program begins Monday.
As stated in a press release from Udall:
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Mark Udall announced that the Army has agreed to his request to implement the Confidential Alcohol Treatment Program — or CATEP — at Fort Carson starting Monday. The program will enable soldiers to seek confidential treatment for alcohol-related issues without fear of stigma or harm to their careers.
Senators Udall and Bennet requested last year that Fort Carson be added to the pilot program, which is already operating at other bases, in response to alarming findings in recent Army studies regarding risk behaviors by soldiers.
“Fort Carson’s soldiers and their families continue to make extraordinary sacrifices for the nation and for each other, and we need to provide more lines of support when they return from battle,” Senator Udall said. “I’m concerned that our troops are responding to stress by self-medicating and through the abuse of drugs and alcohol. We need to break down the barriers to seeking treatment, and this pilot program is one small step in the right direction.”
A recent Army-wide study of soldier suicides found that Army suicides are often linked to alcohol abuse and that the CATEP program helps soldiers “return to readiness, while enhancing the Army’s anti-stigma objectives.”
The report and Army leaders have said that some soldiers do not seek treatment because they fear ridicule by their peers or supervisors or other consequences. The CATEP would waive a requirement that soldiers have to notify their commanders if they refer themselves for treatment.
The pilot program is already being conducted at Schofield Barracks, Fort Richardson, and Fort Lewis.