More soldiers are experiencing problems with alcohol and the Army needs to double its staff of addiction counselors to meet the demand, according to Army vice chief of staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli.
USA Today reported Feb. 9 that Chiarelli said that the Army needs roughly 300 more counselors to ensure that soldiers’ needs are being met and to cut down on wait time for services.
In 2009, 9,199 soldiers enrolled in alcohol treatment, up 56 percent since 2003; a total of 16,388 sought counseling, up from 11,309 in 2003. “There’s no doubt in my mind that since 2001 and being involved in two wars … that we probably have a higher incidence of alcohol abuse,” Chiarelli said.
Alcohol-related problems dwarf cases involving illicit drugs in the Army, accounting for 85 percent of the treatment caseload. The Army currently is 20 percent short of its target for addiction counselors: the service currently seeks to have one counselor for every 2,000 soldiers but wants to lower that to 1 per 1,600 soldiers.