News: Commentary: UK Salvia ban will help keep base children, airmen safe
Story by Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace
ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England – Salvia divinorum, an illegal hallucinogenic drug which was outlawed by the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander Gen. Roger A. Brady January 2009, was banned across the United Kingdom recently.
Airmen caught in violation of the order could face punishment, and now be arrested off base.
My question for Team Mildenhall is: who would want to try the drug?
Media outlets, including the New York Times and BBC, have highlighted the increasing abuse of Salvia. The volatile reactions people experience while taking the drug have been underscored on video post Web sites like YouTube.
I watched some of these videos and what I discovered was shocking.
Video after video showed seemingly normal human beings reduced to slobbering idiots with their eyes glazed over, drooling, and unable to stand, walk or even produce recognizable words. Some videos depicted people diminished to a state of comatose, while others showed violent outbursts targeted at figments of their imaginations. These were all drug-induced hallucinations.
“Can you imagine a security forces airman in that sort of condition arming up to patrol the base, or a mechanic experiencing similar hallucinations attempting to repair a KC-135 Stratotanker engine?” said Michael Dubroff, 48th Medical Group and RAF Mildenhall’s Drug Demand Reduction Program manager. “The results could be deadly.”
In fact, in some cases the results have been deadly.
Helping drive the U.K. ban on Salvia – also known as “Sally D,” “Magic Mint,” and many other names – was the suicide of Wilmington, Del., resident Brett Chidester. CNN, the Telegraph, and other media outlets explain that Brett experimented with the drug often. Salvia was still legal in Delaware at the time but eventually led to his suicide. Brett’s mother’s testament and his death certificate indicted that fact, reported the Telegraph.
The bottom line for Team Mildenhall, and parents of high school- and middle school-aged children is: this drug had widespread use in the U.K. for some time, and until its recent ban, was available in stores as close as Bury St. Edmunds, or on the internet. Parents would benefit by making themselves aware of drugs like these.
In a USAFE news story, 3rd Air Force staff judge advocate Col. Zeb Pischnotte described some consequences Airmen could face for using these drugs.
Use of Salvia could result in: administrative action, nonjudicial punishment or courts-marital, with the maximum punishment being a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement for two years, and reduction to the lowest enlisted grade.
Additionally, any USAFE member violating this order could be subject to discharge for drug abuse under Air Force Instruction 36-3208. If this happens, the member's service separation may be characterized as "under other than honorable conditions," the worst administrative discharge. Members with a UOTHC discharge lose many VA benefits, including education benefits under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, and unemployment compensation at the end of their military service, stated the news story.
"The best advice I can give airmen is to obey this order. There are many ways to enjoy personal time without engaging in misconduct," said Pischnotte. "Have a plan with your wingman and never forget that you are a military member subject to orders, and you are our most valued asset."
Col. Chad Manske, 100th ARW commander, addressed Salvia, along with all intoxicating substances, in a December 2009 policy letter.
It is essential that U.S. Air Force personnel do not wrongfully use, possess, or distribute any intoxicating substance, stated the letter.
Editor’s note: Federal endorsement is neither intended nor implied. The 100th ARW Public Affairs staff welcomes reader’s comments on this subject. Comment by clicking the “Add a comment” link below the story.