US Marijuana Party

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Drug, alcohol problems sometimes follow troops to Iraq

By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, July 21, 2005

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — In early June, military investigators here got the kind of case that seems more likely in the big city than in a forward operating base: They busted a soldier for selling cocaine.

It’s rare that military investigators find cocaine among soldiers at war, military officials said. What’s more common are soldiers who sneak liquor, marijuana, Valium, hashish and a variety of prescription drugs, such as Ritalin, onto base and pass it along to friends, said Lt. Col. John Dunlap, the top military prosecutor for the 256th Brigade Combat Team, a National Guard unit from Louisiana.

In the 256th, alcohol and drug charges rank second and third, respectively, among formal charges brought against soldiers since the guard members arrived in Iraq in October.

And a conviction isn’t necessarily a ticket stateside. Many serve their sentences in Kuwait and come back to Iraq to finish out their deployment. The brigade prints the results of its courts- martial in its newsletter, Tiger Tracks, as a deterrent.

Still, soldiers at war find ways. Generally, they get alcohol from contracted workers on base, Dunlap said. They buy hashish and Valium while on patrol in Baghdad. They typically get marijuana in the mail.


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