MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- In years past, the Corps has lost Marines during war, conflicts and tragedies. However, in the 21st century, the Corps is losing Marines to drugs.
Since 1998, positive urinalysis results for the designer drug Ecstasy within the Department of the Navy has increased 556 percent.
"I've put three Marines in jail, and one is a permanent resident at Jacksonville psychiatric ward [Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. hospital]," said Maj. Stephen Reynolds, Headquarters Battalion commanding officer here. "This is serious."
Designer drugs are white or off-white powder, tablets or capsules. They can be stimulants or depressives.
One of the most dangerous aspects of designer drugs is their uncertain chemical make-up. Each substance is made from a different formula, so it is difficult to predict exact side effects.
As with all drugs, the amount used combined with the mental state of the user and other drugs will determine the chemical's affect.
"All of these drugs make you lose control," said Reynolds, a Beverly, Mass., native.
Designer drugs are primarily found at rave parties. A 'rave' refers to a party, usually all night long, open to the general public. Secretive raves are held in warehouses, deserts and woods; commercialized raves are typically held in established clubs. Extremely loud 'techno' music and other visual stimuli such laser or video screen are usually part of a rave. The number of people at the party can range from 50 to 25,000. It is usually an alcohol-free environment, where designer drugs are bought, sold and consumed.
To avoid attending these types of events, the base's Enlisted Club is available for Marines to enjoy.
"You don't have to go out in town and put yourself in that type of negative environment," said 1st Sgt. Simmie Jackson, Headquarters Battalion sergeant major and Valdosta, Ga., native.
Though Marines may not partake in drugs at rave parties, a rave site is still an unsafe environment for Marines.
"Just because you're thinking clearly, it's not a good situation," said Sgt. Michael Maschmeier, euphonium player with the Albany Marine Band. "There are drugs in the air, and something may be slipped to you without your knowledge."
Aside from the dangers of designer drugs, being in possession, selling or consuming drugs is not tolerated in the Marine Corps, and chargeable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
"The penalties that may be imposed upon a Marine for using Ecstasy are no different than those for using cocaine or crack," said Capt. John Fleming, Headquarters Battalion executive officer and Columbus, Texas, native.
"The same penalties are carried because Ecstasy is a controlled substance as well," he said.
If the dangers and punishment aren't enough reason not to take drugs, Marines should consider honor, courage and commitment to the Corps.
"It's not society that brings it on to you," said Gunnery Sgt. Ouris Pellegrin, system analyst here. "It's the individual Marine. If you gave your word that you wouldn't do drugs [when enlisting in the Marine Corps], keep it."
"We promised each other we'd be there for each other," said Reynolds. "To me, the end distills down to -- we are United States Marines -- we keep our word.
"Taking drugs, or being part of a drug culture is absolute betrayal to what it means to be a Marine."