December 8th, 2013
Washington Post‘s Robert McCartney writes about Graciela Saraiva, who was an enlisted sailor a few years back when she popped hot on a piss test. Apparently, she was on prescription pain killers for some recent dental work and the Navy knew that when they booted her for the urinalysis results. After three years, the Navy has corrected her records and is willing to allow her back into the Navy;
“I’m so excited. I’m really relieved that it’s finally over,” Saraiva said. She may try to rejoin the military, possibly as an officer, when she graduates from college in a year or two.
The Navy kicked out Saraiva, a junior logistics specialist (E-3 rating), after her urine tested positive for codeine and morphine. It wouldn’t let her back, even after it conceded that she failed the test only because she was taking a prescription painkiller after oral surgery.
Saraiva credits media attention, here and elsewhere, for reversing the decision — and the Navy memo admitted as much. It said the Navy didn’t look good barring her reenlistment while conceding that she hadn’t abused drugs.
McCartney blames recent policy changes which make the services more eager to spit out military personnel than to retain their expertise using minor, or as in this case, nonexistent, offenses to meet DoD cuts in spending. Of course, this has happened before. I remember in the early 80s a DWI some time during a soldier’s last enlistment would earn him a bar to reenlistment, prior to that, a DWI was treated like a parking ticket. The overweight program, after six years of waiverable excuses was suddenly enforced – we lost a lot of Vietnam experience on that one.
But, Ms. Saraiva’s situation is totally beyond the limits of common sense. Should troops avoid taking medication prescribed by their military doctors just to avoid popping hot? Apparently, the troops are guilty until they prove their innocence under the military’s administrative system. I’m glad that this worked out for Ms. Saraiva, but I have to think there are more cases out there like this who don’t have the benefit of the Washington Post’s megaphone.
Thanks to Chief Tango for the link.