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Partnership encourages drug-free lifestyle in, out uniform

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Greg Nash
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Although their badges and the people they serve are different, two organizations’ missions overlap once they are called upon to reduce the distribution and use of illegal substances.

Moody AFB’s Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 211 and local law enforcement agencies rely on each other to help promote drug-free, non-addictive lifestyles within both on and off base communities.

“Military members do not operate in a vacuum and are as much members of the local community as our civilians,” said Special Agent Lindsey Tenney, AFOSI Det. 211 commander. “As such, we work and talk with [local law enforcement agencies] weekly in order to keep those great lines of communication open regarding criminal and drug trends.

“Airmen may think they are safe to use drugs as long as it’s not on base,” Tenney added. “By partnering with the local narcotic units, we have successfully aided in identifying numerous military, as well as civilian, drug dealers and users to reduce the flow of drugs into our area.”

 AFOSI’s anti-drug mission is to identify, exploit and neutralize criminal narcotic threats to the Air Force. Since AFOSI is most interested in combating distribution and manufacturing of controlled substances, they rely on local law local enforcement to lend a hand. 

“Crime knows no jurisdiction,” said Brian Childress, Valdosta Police Department chief. “If there are illegal activities affecting the Valdosta community, it will soon reach Moody and vice versa. Only worrying about our own areas is outdated. We have to collaborate to exchange ideas and protect our communities, which is what we both pursue to do.”

Childress, a former U.S. Air Force security forces member who assumed VPD’s Chief position in 2013, elaborated how this partnership enhances their capabilities.

“We conduct quarterly intelligence meetings and have luncheons to hash out concerns and issues within the community to confront,” Childress added. “It’s huge to have this great relationship. We know them and they know us, which is vital. Valdosta is a pro-military community, so that adds to the support to complete the job. Together, we wanted to create a culture where the principles of the United States Code of Military Justice applies everywhere to safeguard our communities.”   

By accomplishing this, the organizations can continue their goal of fostering a climate where Moody Airmen and the local community understand the benefits of living drug-free.

For Tenney, the benefits of this partnership help Moody to maintain the Air Force’s zero-tolerance policy. She relays how any use, distribution or manufacturing of drugs can only be detrimental to unit readiness and can also put lives and/or resources at risk while detracting from accomplishing the mission.

“Airmen are called to embody the core values and the improper use of controlled substances directly contradicts living in accordance with those core values, especially for ‘excellence in all we do,’” Tenney said. “Airman who succumb to drugs start to place those needs and addictions ahead of the overall well-being of their wingmen and the mission. Drug addiction may lead to financial problems, health problems, long absences and poor work performance.” 

Continual involvement with illegal drugs may lead to committing other felony-level crimes.  For anyone currently using illegal substances, the Air Force has resources available to self-identification and seek help, Tenney said.  

“AFOSI encourages all Airmen to immediately report criminal activity they witness or have knowledge of,” Tenney said. “By identifying crime early, Airmen actually help the offending person more than when they allow the crime to continue. It is much better for one Airman to get help early or be removed from a unit than for their influence to fester and pressure others to offend, thereby significantly disrupting a mission and crippling the readiness of the unit.”