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My New Year's resolution: Be the first Air Force Global Strike Command wing to go a year DUI free

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  • By Chief Master Sgt. Marty Anderson
  • 90th Missile Wing command chief
Mighty Ninety, I need your help to achieve one of my New Year Resolutions. I want to see this wing go six months without a driving under the influence charge! I really want to be the first wing in Air Force Global Strike Command to go DUI free for the entire year, but will settle for six month increments! But, in order to achieve this goal, we need to have a change in mindset and culture.

My motivation to achieve this goal is simple; last year there were 21 opportunities for one our Airmen to kill someone. We were lucky the Cheyenne Police Department or 90th Security Forces Group members were able to intervene and prevent a tragedy from occurring. One Airman was caught after hitting a building and another for running into a fence. Two Airmen were caught after passing out in their vehicle; one of those was at a stop light with his foot on the break. The thing I find more alarming is how many more Airmen were drinking and driving who were not caught? According to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team, a person has driven drunk 57 times before being caught.
Monday, I held a meeting with all the Airmen who were charged with a DUI. I wanted to hear from them why they failed to follow their leadership's directive to not drink and drive. Based on our conversation, I was able to derive four main themes, and I wanted to share with you their comments: Lack of education, poor supervisory example or involvement, poor wingmen, and ego or pride. I want to clarify that these comments were not expressed as excuses, but how to help prevent DUIs!

Most all of the Airmen commented on how much they learned while attending the ADAPT course. They did not understand how little alcohol it takes to be over .08 blood alcohol contact. Nor, did they understand that having a high tolerance had nothing to do with BAC. One Airman stated he felt fine and was quite surprised when he blew a .14 BAC, which is almost twice the legal limit! Most did not know how long it took for the effects of alcohol to wear off. One Airman stated that his drinking increased to get the same effect because his tolerance was increasing, but he didn't realize how this was leading him down a destructive path. One Airman commented that the consequences for a driving while impaired, .05-.08, BAC carries the same consequences as a DUI, .08 BAC, or higher.

Quite a few of the Airmen stated if their supervisor was more involved, set a better example or had established an environment where they can contact them for help, they believed they would not be in their current predicament. Again, not making excuses, but this illustrates the influence NCOs have!

Some of the Airmen stated they have seen their supervisor have quite a few drinks and made the choice to drive. They also stated they have listened to their supervisor tell stories how they were so intoxicated, they don't even remember how they drove home. One Airman stated drinking was a main part of his duty section's culture.

A couple of the Airmen stated, they wished their supervisor told them drinking and driving will not be tolerated; they are expected to have a plan, and if their plan fell through to call and the supervisor, who would ensure they arrived home safely.

The most concerning story I heard, was an Airman who drank a lot because of personal problems and it was affecting work performance, but no one intervened!

A couple of the Airmen were with other Airmen when they were pulled over. They expressed that they wished their friend would have intervened to keep them from doing something they now regret!

When I asked the most difficult question, "Why didn't you follow your leadership's directive?" They stated it was because of their ego or pride! They felt they were in control, they done this before many times and nothing happened. Many of the Airmen stated they felt they needed help, but because of their ego, they did not want to ask for it!

The consequences are too high and we need to have a culture change! Binge drinking contributes to personal, relationship, and possibly financial problems. Drinking more than five drinks for males and four drinks for women constitutes binge drinking. When a person drinks more than five drinks, they lose their inhibitions and start making poor choices, which can result in failing to follow an established plan!

It is okay to socialize, but supervisors need to demonstrate through their behaviors responsible drinking and choices. We need to create a culture where it is okay to say, "No thanks, I have had enough!" Wingmen need to have the fortitude to say, "We have been drinking; we are not driving -- period!" Our culture needs to have the discipline that if we do not have a plan, we do not drink! Our culture needs to create an environment in where it is okay to ask for help!

I expect each of us to not drink and drive. I expect each Airman to have a plan, and if that plan falls through to call a friend, supervisor, first sergeant, commander or myself. I expect Airmen to ask for help when they need it. I view this as a sign of strength, not weakness. I expect every Airman to intervene when another Airman is showing signs of distress or is about to make a poor decision. I am asking for each Airman to help me establish this type of culture.

I witnessed the remorseful expression of each of these Airmen, because they knew they made poor choices that jeopardize the lives of others. I don't want to see an Airman face a trial for manslaughter because they drank and drove. I don't want to see any more of our Airmen lose stripes, or their Air Force Career because of making poor choices!

Again, let's be the first wing within AFGSC to go a year without a DUI!