Survive, serve honorably: Things to think about

By Col. Stephen Clark: 27th SOW Commander

The summer months are fast approaching, meaning more outdoor activities and spending vacation time with family and friends. I encourage you to take some well-deserved time to rest and recharge your batteries.

We have been and will continue to be very busy as we concurrently support our operational taskings, beddown new missions, rebuild the base to accommodate these missions, and prepare for the November Operational Readiness Inspection. I appreciate the hard work you’ve already put in to making our base and this wing shine.

But as you relax and take time off from work, also remember to make smart decisions and take care of one another.

Specifically, I want to address making good decisions to avoid drinking and driving.

Given the great care and resources both our families and the government have invested in us, I am taken aback whenever I hear of an airman who has voluntarily given up the right to his or her own life — while possibly taking away that right from someone else — by choosing to drink and drive.

In the military, we undergo rigorous training to successfully accomplish our mission and survive in the process. We must give ourselves that same advantage when it comes to having fun. And if having fun to you means having a few alcoholic beverages, drinking and driving should not be an option.

The key is planning so as not to make the mistake of drinking and driving. Have a plan that includes a designated driver or a taxi-ride home. You can also call Airmen Against Drunk Driving at 784-AADD (2233). They have someone on call every day, 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., to safely drive you home if you’ve had too much to drink. If you call outside of those hours, they’ll still find a way to get you home safely. They’ve already helped more than 60 Cannon airmen this year.

The AADD program has also recently paired with the base wingman coordinator to allow airmen to call the 784-AADD number if they find themselves in uncomfortable or unpleasant places and want to go home immediately, regardless of if they’ve been drinking alcohol or not.

The bottom line is to take care of yourself and of one another.

Before you have that first drink, think about what is important to you: your career, your fellow airmen, your family, your life. Are these worth losing for a night of drinking and recklessness? Is it worth depriving others of their lives or their loved ones?

In addition, think about this: if you are apprehended for drinking and driving, the minimum punishment typically includes time in jail, a letter of reprimand, an unfavorable information file, and lost driving privileges on base for a year. Other typical punishments include receiving an Article 15, a reduction in pay, extra duties, and losing rank. Is getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking worth all of this?

In less than a week, the nation will observe Memorial Day. I encourage you to take some time remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great nation. In doing so, I think you will also remember that we are all defenders of our country and have much to give back; making that decision not to drink and drive is one smart way to survive and continue to serve honorably.