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Minnesota National Guard
The conflict at home: Substance Abuse Awareness Month

Minnesota National Guard ST PAUL, Minn- Not only a time for jumping into piles of red- and gold-colored leaves, October is also Substance Abuse Awareness Month

For nearly twenty years, the US has recognized Red Ribbon Week, an event to conduct drug prevention education and advocacy For several years, Minnesota National Guard members have participated in community events to support the initiative The campaign runs through the final week of October each year

"With the Red Ribbon Campaign we're going to take every opportunity that we can to promote what we're trying to do in the National Guard and highlight some of the community resources and partners that we've been working with as well," said Capt Tara Robertson, substance abuse prevention program manager for the Minnesota National Guard

The state's legislative objectives for 2014 included an emphatic care initiative for Soldiers and Airmen of the Minnesota National Guard though improvements in the process of substance abuse assessment and referral

"We're pretty fortunate here in Minnesota because the leadership has been so supportive," said Robertson

This year, the Minnesota National Guard secured funding to contract two licensed alcohol and drug counselors who work specifically for and with the state's troops No other state in the National Guard has this sort of asset

"Minnesota is really leading the way in a lot of areas with where we've come with the program in just the last year," said Robertson "A lot of states are still just trying to figure out how to do more than just drug testing We're taking it to a whole new Soldier wellness level"

The Minnesota National Guard also partnered with the Department of Human Services and several other state agencies in a comprehensive substance abuse strategy to address and prevent impacts of drug and alcohol abuse

Through partnerships with various community programs across the state, the substance abuse prevention program is working to proactively identify the issues related to getting Service members help By considering in-house initiatives coupled with legislative options, the Minnesota National Guard is working on all fronts to combat substance abuse among troops and around the community

"We need to reduce the stigma around getting substance abuse help," Robertson emphasized "If you do the right thing and you're proactive, then you're going to reduce the issues that you've got in the long run"

October 1, 2014
by Sgt Linsey Williams
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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