ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- You are in a club out in town. It is really late, and you have been drinking a lot. Suddenly someone offers you drugs. You think about it for a minute, and wonder what will happen if you accept. What is your decision?
"Wrongful use, possession or distribution of controlled substances is prohibited by Article 112a of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice)," said Lt. Joseph Romero, the base deputy staff judge advocate. "The offense is punishable by up to two and 15 years per offense depending on various factors. Additionally, anyone found to have abused drugs must be processed for administrative separation, with the least favorable characterization of discharge being an other than honorable."
Romero described what a dishonorable discharge says to society about those who receive one.
"Your discharge tells society what you did for the service and how you served your country," said Romero. "A dishonorable discharge is the worst form of punitive discharge and is reserved for the cases where a member should be separated under conditions of dishonor, having been convicted of an offense that is considered a felony. Someone who received a dishonorable discharge will normally lose all benefits that may have derived from military service, including veteran's assistance benefits."
Romero said the best thing to do if you see a shipmate heading for trouble is to educate them on the consequences and give them a strong support network.
"Drugs are illegal," he said, "and getting caught may ruin your life. However, we are all individuals, and eventually, we all have to live with the consequences of our own decisions."
He added that while every case is reviewed and investigated individually, claiming drugs were slipped into your drink without your knowledge would not get you out of trouble.
"The UCMJ states that someone who deliberately avoids knowledge of the presence of drugs is subject to the same criminal liability as one who had actual knowledge," he said.
So what would your decision be? Just remember the Navy's policy is zero tolerance.
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