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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The “Whizzinator” and butt wedge passed around the room at Yokosuka Naval Base still were in the original plastic. The tube-like vessels, designed to conceal “clean” urine, never had been used to try to pass a U.S. Navy drug test.

People still handled them gingerly as they made the rounds Thursday at the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, or NADAP, summit.

“There are hundreds of products geared to help sailors game the system,” said NADAP’s Bob Moore. “But there are a lot of cutting-edge things happening on our side.”

Speakers from NADAP, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Navy Drug Screening Lab and Navy Personnel Command spent three days in Yokosuka this week bringing active-duty leaders up to date on Navy drug and alcohol policies.

Summit topics included current challenges, NCIS threat assessment, drug-screening lab processes and best practices. The information will be presented at Sasebo Naval Base May 1-3.

Annual summits, started in 2003, are making a difference, Moore said.

“We’ve seen a 43 percent decrease in alcohol-related incidents and a 41 percent decrease in drug use since summits started,” Moore said.

But there is plenty of room for improvement, he said.

“We’re doing well but there are still druggies out there,” Moore said.

Even with mandatory drug testing, many sailors aren’t getting called up, he said. NADAP estimates that 24,000 sailors weren’t tested in 2004 and 23,000 sailors slipped through in 2005.

Policy changes — such as replacing unit sweeps with more frequent, smaller-scale tests and increasing monthly testing minimums to 20 percent (they’re now at 10 percent) — aim to get such people tested, said Master Chief Petty Officer Brian Ricks, Navy alcohol and drug control officer.

Also in the works, he said: making efforts to cheat on a drug test, or keeping mum about another sailor’s attempt to cheat, an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

NCIS Special Agent Stacey Nelson urged leadership to take tough measures, contending that sailors buying drugs in Japan likely are helping finance terrorism and can make trouble for a command.

“One bad apple spoils the bunch,” Nelson said.

Acknowledging that manpower is being cut and budgets are tight, Navy Personnel Command Assistant Legal Counsel Tim Suich agreed Navy leaders will have to make tough decisions about sailors who get in trouble for drug and alcohol violations.

“What are you going to do? Sending someone to mast or court-martial costs money,” Suich said to Yokosuka leaders Thursday. “Are you going to retain or separate these people out?”

Rumors and reality

Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program representatives visited Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Yokosuka Naval Base this week. They travel to Sasebo Naval Base next week.

Here is a sampling of some of myths and truths, according to the group:

MYTH: Only 10 percent of urine samples submitted to the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory are tested.

REALITY: 100 percent of samples are tested.

MYTH: An “Other Than Honorable” discharge for drugs will be upgraded to honorable after six months.

REALITY: Sailors can appeal to the Navy’s Board of Record Correction but an upgrade will only be granted if a mistake is found in the processing. According to a Navy legal expert, fewer than 5 percent of appeals result in an upgrade.

MYTH: Sailors can still keep Navy benefits after a drug discharge.

REALITY: Sailors lose all benefits, including the Montgomery G.I. Bill.

MYTH: Sailors get in trouble for self-referrals for a drug or alcohol problem.

REALITY: As long as the sailor self-reports before misconduct occurs, no punitive actions will result.

— Stars and Stripes

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