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Army substance abuse program focuses on meth

Army substance abuse program focuses on meth

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Every year, Army Soldiers and civilians learn about the dangers of common drugs through the Army Substance Abuse Program’s annual training.

For fiscal year 2020, Fort McCoy’s ASAP training makes use of Wisconsin’s “kNOw Meth” campaign. According to the website knowmethwi.org, use of methamphetamine increased by 462 percent in Wisconsin between 2010 and 2017.

The campaign is run by the Wisconsin Department of Justice in partnership with the Marshfield Clinic Health System, Northwoods Coalition and the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth.

“The ASAP office is teaming up with the Monroe County Safe Communities Coalition and the Tomah Police Department to offer this year’s training,” said Michelle Bourman, program specialist with Fort McCoy ASAP. “We are using the ‘kNOw Meth’ campaign because they have already put out some great products for us to use that focus on the effects of meth in Wisconsin.”

“Methamphetamine is currently the biggest problem in the area as it relates to drug abuse and distribution,” said investigator Robert Walensky with the Tomah Police Department, who will be conducting this year’s ASAP classes at Fort McCoy. “In this area, methamphetamine currently is the most reported and investigated drug for law enforcement.”

The class will cover identification of methamphetamine, crimes associated with methamphetamine use and distribution, and local trends associated with methamphetamine use and distribution.

“Many Fort McCoy employees, both civilian and military, have spouses who work and live in the community, children who go to school in the community, they shop and patronize businesses in the community, and participate in recreational activities in the area,” Walensky said. “It is my hope and intent that general knowledge and awareness will help them avoid becoming a victim of methamphetamine-related crimes when living in the community.”

Walensky said education is a very powerful tool for preventing drug use and drug-related crimes, which go beyond use and distribution. Associated crimes can include domestic abuse, theft, burglary, robbery, fraud and more.

“Awareness of drug-abuse issues may help people recognize drug abuse or someone involved in distribution within their own family or friends, which may lead to earlier intervention and getting someone the help they need,” he said.

Walensky has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has spent a majority of his career working drug investigations, he said. He serves on the board for the Wisconsin Narcotics Officers Association and is part of the West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group, which is a five-county drug task force that works on drug distribution crimes. He conducts drug-education classes for both law enforcement personnel and members of the public, including the Monroe County Safe Community Coalition and school staff members.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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