Army Center for Substance Abuse Programs: Bankrupt at the Top, Ignoring Soldier Needs

Products are supposed to be based on valid scientific data. Strong Choices and the Universal Prevention Model are based on perceptions and opinions.”

In March of 2012 an article was published outlining some of the allegations of fraud, waste and abuse within the US Army’s Center for Substance Abuse Programs (ACSAP). Since the publication of that piece, sources say, only minor changes were made: one employee resigned, another was reprimanded.

Indeed, sources now report that the ACSAP program has become a lucrative for-profit business operating within the US Federal government (ostensibly a non-profit operation). ACSAP management there, Leslie McFarling and Rhonda Earl, appear to be heading a Tammany Hall operation whose focus is securing positions for close comrades and relatives, not the health of the US military personnel and, of course, their families/communities who ultimately must care for the active or returning soldier.

If the allegations are correct, then the fault for this ultimately rests with uniformed US Army commanders. They are responsible for overseeing private contractors and/or revolving door personnel whose loyalty is to profit, not military personnel or the US Constitution.

Sources claim that ACSAP leadership (McFarling and Earl) are “unethical and corrupt.” They say that personnel brought into the program are unqualified. Moreover, they claim that the products and services that are offered to US military personnel are of low quality and, hence, do not “meet the needs of the military personnel.”

At least $17 million dollars (US) was awarded to a contractor known as Windwalker. Sources claim that Windwalker has delivered “nothing” to ACSAP that truly serves the needs of US military personnel. Instead, the $17 million was used by McFarling to hire friends-in-need. Meanwhile work orders within the contract were not satisfactorily completed and yet the ACSAP contractors still received unearned payments. Contractors also were rewarded with exclusive ownership of products paid for by taxpayers. These products can be used to rake in more cash from, say, state and local organizations not savvy enough to get past the smoke and mirrors of a marketing campaign.

MyPRIME, for example, would end up costing the US Army/US Federal government nearly $6 million dollars. That product is owned by Prevention Research Institute (PRI) who happens to be closely linked to the ACSAP director. The US Army/US Federal government has to pay PRI a license fee to run a program that was paid for by taxpayers.

ASCAP leadership appears to be allergic to performing research that involves “measure of effectiveness” for the products and services aimed at US military personnel. The reason for that, according to sources, is that the output from Windwalker and PRI is not measurable. One source said that the “US Army has been using the MyPrime product for nearly a decade and no one knows if it is meeting the needs of the population or not.”

It’s all about personal gain and profit, not the suffering personnel or the families.

Inspect an Installation for Vacation

ACSAP apparently has been a funding source for the director’s pet programs that have dubious motives.

Sources indicate that the “That Guy Campaign” is one such program. “’That Guy’ glamorizes drinking… most installations don’t support the campaign… there is no data to support its effectiveness… It is offensive and degrading….”

Allegations have surfaced that travel to inspect installations for compliance with US Army Regulation 600-85 was done, in part, to coincide with staff vacations. Sources claim that the ACSAP deputy director took her family to Hawaii during one installation inspection. When the installation there failed to pass inspection, ACSAP did not follow up to correct deficiencies found. Instead, the Inspection as Vacation Program continued on.

According to sources, more contractors are being hired than are actually needed. Performance work statements (PWS) are being generated just to bring on board relatives and friends. “The husband of one Department of the Army civilian was hired… the fact is that contractor’s like this have nothing to do because most of the work on the PWS is made up to justify a contract.”

In the end, said a source, ACSAP is more like a promotional organization for Windwalker and PRI. ACSAP is now viewed as a bankrupt organization that does not serve the needs of its clients: the men and women of the US Army and their families/communities.

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security affairs. He wrote The Raptor's Eye, and his latest book is US Army Human Terrain System. He can be reached at: captainkong22@gmail.com. Read other articles by John.