Posted on Aug 9, 2014
MAJ FAO - Europe
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The recent officer separation boards seem to have overwhelmingly separated officers with bad paper such as DUIs. The message is pretty clear, and has been since I've been affiliated with the Army: getting a DUI is bad. The competing message regarding alcohol, at least as long as I've been in the Army, is that "Alcohol is great!" I've served with lots and lots of officers and soldiers that either were alcoholics, binge drinkers, or alcohol abusers (full disclosure, so as not to be preachy: perhaps like most of us, I definitely drank like a binge drinker when I was younger.)

The issue I'd like to discuss is the continuation of the glorification of alcohol in the Army, where its perfectly acceptable for, ne, expected of, Army personnel to drink, and drink alot (think of your hail-and-fairwells, your unit holiday parties, your unit formal balls, the well-stocked Class VI and alcohol section at every commissary on every Army base), thereby creating a culture of acceptance of alcohol abuse; but at the same time a DUI/DWI is a fire-able offense.

I don't mind that a DUI/DWI is a fire-able offense; getting one suggests a lack of judgement, the lack of self-control, acceptance of the endangerment of others; oh, and it is against the law, to boot. Getting a DUI/DWI should probably result in negative action: Article 15, letter of reprimand, civilian criminal charges, etc, etc.

What I do mind is that driving under the influence / driving while intoxicated is perfectly acceptable in the Army, just as long as one doesn't get arrested, charged, and convicted of the offense.

Thoughts?
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COL Strategic Plans Chief
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It's ok to dring as long as it doesn't effect your work, and no, you can't drive drunk. I don't see a culture that requires one to drink. I have plenty of officers who don't drink at all. Now, there is a lot of drinking going on by the Troopers in the Squadron, but they are still expected to live up to the standards established in the UCMJ...drunk or not. And...oh, by the way, the average age of the unit is 22-24. Some don't drink...my driver for instance...good on 'em. No one screws with them because of it and they've never felt compelled to drink. There used to be a much stronger drinking culture in the Army. You haven't even come close to seeing a drinking culture. If you want to see what the US Army was like 20 years ago, spend some time with the Australian Army. THEY have a culture of drinking...and they don't have a problem with it. It's like that old joke, Alcoholics go to meetings...we're not alcoholics...we're drunks...drunks go to parties. The problem comes in blaming alcohol for personal problems. "The alcohol made him do it," type BS. No dice here. You live your life, you make your own decisions, and if you cross the line, we will gut you and hang you from the flagpole and the gore that spills from your body will grease this unit's skids toward success. There used to be a drinking culture here, but we've killed it. What remains is a whimper of it's old self...and if you cross into the dark-side, gut...grease...skid...success. Rinse and repeat.
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1SG Eoc Ops Coordinator / Ga Certified Emergency Manager
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Being a former Trooper and NCO in the 11th ACR (74-77 and 79-82) in Fulda Germany where we worked hard, partied hard and got the job done in the manner COL (Join to see) stated. It's so damn refreshing to hear someone put it out there in that "Old Fashion Cavalry Manner". Absolutely no room for mis-interpretation there! ALLONS! Sir!
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COL Strategic Plans Chief
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Top...treat adults like grown-ass men and women...and they act like it. Play to the lowest common denominator and you get a bunch of people who know you don't trust them, and then the ones that wouldn't be douche-bags turn to the darkside too, because hell, if I'm going to be treated like a child, I might as well act like one. Hold the bad ones responsible. Do it quickly. Do it publicly. Do it with zeal. Then the good ones, the 98% of your formation, will take care of it for you. THEY will take responsibility for their formation. THEY will hold people accountable. THEY will be your mouth piece and say to those that don't belong under the Sabers, "This is OUR Squadron, and you are not welcome here, because we are better than your petty BS."
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COL Strategic Plans Chief
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SSG Porter, if I could stay in this job until I was 65, I would. I'm sure that the way I approach things will restrict my career progression at some point...but we'll see. Certainly don't have the chops to be President. You think America has issues now...I try not to do math in public.
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1SG Eoc Ops Coordinator / Ga Certified Emergency Manager
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COL (Join to see) Unfortunately what you just said tends to be the rule rather than the exception. Hopefully, you will be an exception!
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1LT Medical-Surgical Nurse
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MAJ Jager. I hesitate to respond. But, it seems to me the tradition is perfectly acceptable to drink, even drink to excess. But, it is totally unacceptable to drive and/or show up for duty while still intoxicated. The only thing this has to do with getting caught is the formal documentation of your misconduct. I would no more allow a nurse, doctor, or surgeon to practice drunk than to drive drunk. All that said, if we did not drink after a long hard day in combat surgery under the primitive conditions of the past, we probably would not keep our sanity. Warmest Regards, Sandy
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CPT All Source Intelligence
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I also think there is a vast distinction between a private drink or two after a long day and getting completely ripped in public. It really isn't the same thing.
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1LT Medical-Surgical Nurse
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At least we are not ordered to show up at the officers club in full dress civilian attire to serve as social companions and/or escorts for dinner, drinking, and dancing after a full days work anymore.
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CPT All Source Intelligence
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Wow, I'm not surprised I suppose...I have to say that I do think we lost something when we got rid of the O-Clubs. Being an officer is pretty isolating. It would have made a nice opportunity to meet other officers outside of your CoC.
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1LT Medical-Surgical Nurse
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Indeed, there were pluses and minuses. The O-Club was a place to network and negotiate for resources that may not be readily available without outside help.
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1SG Steven Stankovich
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Sir, we as an Army have curbed the, as you put it, culture of drinking over the past decade. What I mean by that is there are a lot of checks in place before a unit can have alcohol at a unit function; requests, risk assessments, etc. Now that is not to say that it does not exist, because drinking is still an acceptable form of camaraderie: Beer Calls, Dining Ins, Grog Ceremonies, etc. It is a Leader...as much as an individual...responsibility to do the right thing. Assign a DD. Have a plan. Execute that plan.

I am currently working in NATO right now. Every single one of their events involves alcohol. There are always beer tents, liquor tasting from home countries, etc. The amount of DUIs or alcohol related incidents here on SHAPE is almost non-existent. People are doing the right things. I think that is a testament to how the other Nations regard alcohol consumption and responsibility. Maybe we need to take some notes.

There is no excuse to drink and drive. I had an experience way, way back in the day where I drank and got behind the wheel. I put my truck in a ditch, didn't hurt anyone or anything, thank goodness, except my truck, and paid a $500 dollar fine. That was my eye-opening experience and since then, if I even have one beer, my wife or someone else drives. There wasn't a "zero tolerance" mentality back then. If I would do something like that today, instead of twenty years ago, I would be on my way out of our Army.

BLUF is that both Leaders and Individuals are accountable with regards to alcohol consumption. Do the right thing.
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MAJ FAO - Europe
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MSG Stankovich: Well said, thanks for the input. I do think that we as Americans have a strange relationship with alcohol; even though alcohol consumption in some European countries is higher than that in the U.S., the different cultures learn about drinking responsibly in a much different way. Thanks also for sharing your personal experience; an example of someone making a mistake and being better for it now. You're right, of course: if that happened today, you'd be on your way out. And, if you were a major or captain at the OSBs this year, even though the event was 20 years ago, had it been on your record, you'd be heading home, too.....
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MAJ FAO - Europe
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SSG Brad Porter Have a look at the OSB statistics. A large number of prior service captains and majors that had no derogatory information in their records from their time in service as an officer were selected for involuntary separation due to derogatory information in their records from their enlisted time. That's what I was trying to highlight.
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CPT Company Commander (Hhc, Cyber Protection Brigade)
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MAJ (Join to see), yes you are right on that aspect.  Most people who went to OCS were easily accepted.  Now, you have to fight for OCS.
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