Thursday, December 13, 2007

TOP STORY >>Responsible drinking comes with rewards

By Brig. Gen. Wayne Schatz
314th Airlift Wing commander

In July, I brought together many of our key Combat Airlifters to develop a set of campaign plans. These plans were designed to raise awareness on some high-interest items on Little Rock Air Force Base. Plans include deployment preparation, family housing, suicide prevention and healthy dorm living, among others. The goal is to identify ways to improve quality of life and mission capability for Team Little Rock. †

One of the areas that must remain at the top of our focus is the responsible use of alcohol. I know itís not realistic to tell Airmen not to drink. If youíre of age, you have the legal right to consume alcohol. But as an Airman, you also have a responsibility to drink responsibly. But responsible alcohol use is a broad term that applies to everyone whether they drink or not.

First, check yourself. Make sure youíre doing what you know to be right. If youíre not 21, donít drink. If you drink, donít drive. If youíre with a group, ensure you have a plan to get everyone home safely. Donít drink past your limit Ė which only you know. No one should drink to the point of passing out, throwing up or being unable to take care of themselves. It isnít smart and it isnít safe.

Next, be a good wingman. If you see someone who appears to be under 21 with a drink in hand, speak up. If you are at a party and notice someone who seems to have reached their limit, approach them. And always make sure the people you are with have a designated driver. If you are the designated driver, do not drink. Itís as simple as that. Drunk driving is a criminal act and one I have zero tolerance for.

We are getting very close to another string of 60 days without a DUI. Our Combat Airlifters have done an outstanding job of reaching this milestone yet again. As promised, if we make it to the 60 day mark, the plan is a day off. Right now, weíre looking at Jan. 18 as a Team Little Rock down day. This will allow for a four day weekend in January.

But we canít let our guard down as we approach the holidays. It will be a great accomplishment if we make it 60 days without a DUI and earn a down day in January, but it would be a terrible tragedy if we lose someone after reaching that goal due to a DUI over the holidaysÖwhich are traditionally a peak time for alcohol incidents. Please take the time to enjoy the holidays with your friends and family, but also stay safe and celebrate responsibly.

Iím very proud of the job you all have done to reduce alcohol related instances. We are seeing definite results. But you canít stop here. Drinking may be part of our culture, but responsible drinking needs to be a way of life. It is my goal that one day, we wonít need to set rewards for being responsible because those actions will have become second nature to us all.Combat Airlift!

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