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Avatar of GI KoreaBy on December 31st, 2012 at 3:34 am

Does the Military Need To Ban Alcohol at Unit Gatherings?

» by in: US Military

I did not like the tone of this Stars & Stripes article that insinuates that servicemembers should not drink alcohol at unit gatherings:

In recent years, the military has tried to shift away from alcohol, letting troops know “it’s OK not to drink,” Colston said.

Charles Gould, program manager for the Navy’s substance abuse rehabilitation program, said commanders on Navy ships try to alleviate the emphasis on alcohol during port calls by flying in people from the ports to talk about nonalcoholic recreational activities that sailors can participate in and tours they can take. They’ve also changed the culture at official events, he said, partly by changing the rules so funding can’t be used for alcohol.

Still, the tone varies by command, said Cmdr. Rosemary Malone, the Navy director of psychological health.

Malone said a friend of hers is assigned to a unit in which the Friday night routine is usually “mandatory fun” at a bar — in which officers are expected to throw back a few beers with their co-workers and commander with an eye toward unit cohesion.

“That doesn’t necessarily send the best message,” Malone said. “And what happens with that, too, is your officers who are asked to go, it sends this message to the enlisted (sailors) that, ‘Hey, look at these guys, there’s nothing wrong with that.’ It is important to lead by example, and there’s been that push, especially with alcohol, to try to do that.”  [Stars & Stripes]

So now it is wrong for servicemembers to voluntarily go to a bar with co-workers?  If anything this should be encouraged as long as it is voluntary.  In my experience these type of get togethers were actually more frequent before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.  It seems to me they are less now because servicemembers in units spend so much time together training and then on deployment they rather spend time with their families once back home than with their co-workers.

As far as young servicemembers and binge drinking, I think it is nothing different than what goes on at college campuses every weekend.  Young people are going to experiment and drink alcohol just like the people launching the criticism against them now probably did when they were younger.  When it comes to alcohol people need to consume it in a safe environment and that is why getting together as a group is better than just one or two servicemembers going to a random bar by themselves.  Discouraging servicemembers from drinking together as a group I think actually increases the likelihood of incidents happening.

So what does everyone else think?  Should units no longer have gatherings that have alcohol?  By the way everyone have fun and drink responsibly this New Year’s Eve.  Cheers!

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  • Leon LaPorte
    4:16 am on December 31st, 2012 1

    The Evangelicals and ultra PC feminists/superlibs have been trying to slowly roll in de facto prohibition for some time. Currently the nicest building anywhere on Camp Casey is the brand spanking new ASAP building.

  • tbonetylr
    4:28 am on December 31st, 2012 2

    Aren’t they smoking pot at bases in Washington(Naval Air Station Whidbey Island – Oak Harbor) and Colorado -
    Air Force Academy – north of Colorado Springs
    Buckley Air Force Base – Aurora
    Peterson Air Force Base – Colorado Springs
    Schriever Air Force Base – Colorado Springs

  • Leon LaPorte
    4:34 am on December 31st, 2012 3

    2. As long as they are off duty it should be allowed. Actually, in many ways, it would be preferable to drinking.

    Once it’s legal at the national level, it is something they will have to wrestle with. Of course eventually the government is not going to be able to ignore the will of the people and be forced to admit to government lies.

  • Glans
    5:30 am on December 31st, 2012 4

    Thinking about alcohol? Have intercourse instead.

  • Maui
    5:36 am on December 31st, 2012 5

    #2 Guess it gives a new meaning to the old motto.. “Aim High” :roll: .
    And 3 of the 4 bases normally handle stuff out of this world.. well low orbit at least.. :cool:

  • kangaji
    6:22 am on December 31st, 2012 6

    I knew if China decided to ban dining outs for their high officials somebody would step up to the plate to make the US military more repressive with alcohol!

  • bobt592959
    9:58 am on December 31st, 2012 7

    dumb idea imo

  • Liz
    12:17 pm on December 31st, 2012 8

    Forced fun without alcohol?

    Are they trying to imitate hell?

  • Rockmarne
    1:32 pm on December 31st, 2012 9

    I guess the days of opening the safe and giving the supply sergeant the company ration card so he can stock up at the Class VI store for the unit Christmas party are over….

  • Eddie Cantor
    4:42 pm on December 31st, 2012 10

    I never once saw alcohol at unit gatherings at Fort Hood. Must be something done at other posts.

  • William
    5:48 pm on December 31st, 2012 11

    One of two things needs to be done for these unit functions that are totally voluntary, but make teh SR Enlisted & commanders pissed at you for not attending.

    1) Make everyone in the military sign a contract stating that they WILL go to these events as part of their profession and its demands.

    That will eliminate the grey area harrassment that has been going on forever. Servicemembers might not like it, but at least it is clearly a requirement and they signed a contract disclosing this.

    2) Make it a hate crime vs Humanity for a Commander to even imply attendence is anywhere near mandatory and prevent the Command form viewing the non-participants from further harassing them.

    I have always utterly hated having to go to “Madatory Fun” kind of events. I never wanted to further associate with the head shead of any level off duty nor have I ever wanted them to compell me to go to these kind of events.

    Traditionally, even now, many commands will pick you out for not going to these and give you the business. Some do it on the sly, sneaky kind of way, but the harrasment and discrimination are tangible and real. Many Commanders are up front with this. I appreciate the sincerity, but stating that being a remotely controlled pawn in a pansy social setting as part of being a professional Soldier is one of the classical lines of bullshit in out profession.

    Having said all that, I came to Korea and bought a new business suit and ASU uniform. I seek to go to every one of these events as much as possible to get my value of my investment in these threads. I actually enjoy some of these events where we have teh hour or so before the event and I can buy an expensive azz beer or two and dominate at dominoes, often vs an unsuspecting SR officer besting him at what he thinks he is good at. That is good stuff and should NEVER be taken away. I go to these events totally willing for my own motivations. I always snicker at whever the CDR gets in front of a formationa dn sez that participation is voluntary, then pounds the gavel for more peole buying tickets. I have been in units where a CDR made it mandatory to attend and if you failed to buy a ticket with your own money at $40 + a pop, you had to wear your dress uniform and stand in back while everyone sat down. it took a talk from a few IG visitors to mellow that CDR out of his actions, but not his attitude.

    I still maintain that forcing this stuff an unreceptive Military is utterly unacceptable and most unprofessinal behavior. When I am “asked” and really “told” to go to these, I can understand the resentment of being treated like this and how in th eend, the Soldier has little respect left and would not be willing to have the CDR’s back in battle.

  • Retired GI
    6:25 pm on December 31st, 2012 12

    #10 Eddie, I saw alcohol at dining in’s at Hood in 2005. NCOPD at the 101 club at Campbell was once followed by “belly up to the bar, but that was the mid 80′s. We had dancers on stage also…until the “females” started bitching. Guess they didn’t like the competition. I’m sure DUI’s went up as we had to drive on 41A to see a dancer and drink.

  • SmokingFreedomGuy
    6:50 pm on December 31st, 2012 13

    Manda Schmanda… I never went to any unit functions because Signal’s filled with so many a-holes COB couldn’t come fast enough. Whenever they asked me why I wasn’t coming I’d ask in return “Am I being ordered to attend?” and as the answer was almost always “no” I’d say “Well there you go.”

    I hear so many fun stories from the 80′s about unit activities but face facts it hasn’t been the 80′s for quite some time.

  • tom langley
    8:24 pm on December 31st, 2012 14

    When I was active duty they had dining ins & dining outs (I’ve been retired so long I’ve forgot the difference between the two) & I was able to get out of going to them except for one (at Ft Hood) where my platoon sgt told me to go. Yes alcohol was there. It seems to me unreal that we can trust 18 years old troops to carry weapons, young troops to drive tanks, fly helicopters with weapons, but we can’t trust them to drink a beer? Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot? I hated the mandatory dining ins & dining outs because all they were was a big piper kissing session. But to ban alcohol entirely is total bs. Have the alcohol available but expect your troops to behave like responsible adults.

  • Teadrinker
    8:27 pm on December 31st, 2012 15


    I’d blame the evangelicals only.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    8:34 pm on December 31st, 2012 16

    @11- In my experience the mandatory fun where you have drop $40+ for a ticket plus another ticket for your date was more frequent 10 years ago. Really the only mandatory fun I see now a days is for hail and farewells which is really only for leadership anyway. Plus I have been in units where people looked forward to the hail and farewells because of how well put together they were.

  • Bean Dip
    5:19 pm on January 1st, 2013 17

    No. The military does not need to ban alcohol at any gathering. Every military member understands that if you make a mistake, be prepared to suffer the consequences. Most importantly, and I see it less and less as time goes by, TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER!

  • Kangaji
    7:06 pm on January 1st, 2013 18

    I’ve always thought mandatory fun was and continues to be stupid. Especially “organizational day” in the Reserve. If we’ve got limited days to train and get people up to standards for readiness – with equal opportunity, sexual harrassment, and mandatory stand downs for safety/suicide, plus Soldiers only make $100-$200 a month on drill, after gas money… why the hell make them pay to fix their ASUs and for a fancy meal when they’d rather be with their families… seriously, drill days are for drilling, not for this mandatory fun BS. Also, if you’re going to reference the bible and god during part of the ceremonies and have an invocation, but call the christmas party organizational day because you’re afraid of offending people, kill yourself, I mean, ACE cards, the buddy system, power point slides, abstinence, and better opportunities for single soldiers.

  • Leon LaPorte
    5:05 am on January 4th, 2013 19

    My mother died of marijuana addiction 43 years ago. I never got to know her because of this horrible drug. People may say weed is harmless, but my mom is dead-proof that it is dangerous. When she was 14 years old and pregnant with me, she snorted marijuana during at Woodstock. She didn’t have a designated driver and decided to drive home herself. She got into a wreck. The guilt of the family she killed in the wreck made her addiction worse. My mom’s appearance changed a lot after adopting this lifestyle. She eventually overdosed while injecting weed into her buttocks. I was born three months after her death, so I never even got to meet her, yet I still miss her.

    I’ve seen countless people suffer from this insurmountable addiction. It needs to stop.

    R.I.P. Mom.

  • The Joker
    5:13 am on January 4th, 2013 20

    Traffic was moving at about .0001 mile per hour out of Woodstock. Who did she kill? A family of slugs?

  • Leon LaPorte
    5:18 am on January 4th, 2013 21

    2. http://

    11/29/2012 – JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — It’s illegal to use, possess, grow, manufacture, and distribute marijuana on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and a new Washington State law won’t change that reality when it goes into effect Dec. 6.

    That’s because federal law takes precedence over state law. So while the passage of the Nov. 6 Washington State Ballot Initiative 502 makes it legal under certain circumstances — starting Dec. 6 — for state residents over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, it’s still illegal to use, possess, grow, manufacture or distribute the drug on any military installation.

    Servicemembers must understand the U.S. armed forces have a zero-tolerance policy on illegal drugs and that using or possessing marijuana on or off base is illegal.

    Article 112a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice remains unchanged for all servicemembers, including Reservists. It specifically prohibits servicemembers from using, possessing, manufacturing, or distributing marijuana under any circumstances, in any location, at any time, regardless of state or local laws. Article 112a further prohibits the introduction of marijuana (along with other controlled substances) into an installation, vessel, vehicle, or aircraft used by or under the control of the U.S. armed forces, regardless of state and local laws.

    Since the initiative’s passage, the JBLM Provost Marshal’s office has received many calls from servicemembers and family members asking about the new Washington State law and its impact on them.

    According to Lt. Col. Ted Solonar, JBLM Provost Marshal, the most common questions are, “Now that marijuana is legal in Washington, how does that apply to dependents or servicemembers off base? Can we smoke marijuana in on-base quarters? And if a dependent or guest uses marijuana off-base, and then comes on base, is that OK?”

    To answer the first question, Solanar said, “The Department of Defense has not changed its policy regarding marijuana use. For DOD personnel its use is illegal wherever you are; you are still subject to the UCMJ and all penalties still apply.”

    Commanders may take disciplinary action against servicemembers for violating Article 112a regardless of the legality of the behavior in the location in which the behavior occurs.

    Solonar said it’s still illegal to use marijuana anywhere on federal property and that includes military housing and barracks.

    He said servicemembers, family members, employees, contractors and visitors should not try to use the new Washington State law as an excuse for bringing or using marijuana on JBLM.

    Under federal law, it remains illegal for anyone to use, possess, grow or distribute marijuana on base regardless of Washington State law. Dependents, employees, contractors, and visitors will be subject to prosecution for marijuana-related offenses that occur on JBLM, including in on-base quarters.

    Regarding the question of military dependents and guests using marijuana off base and then coming on the installation, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.

    “If dependents or guests choose to use it, it’s in their system, and they drive on federal property, they can be charged with driving under the influence in U.S. Federal Court,” Solonar said.

    If, however, a military dependent or visitor uses marijuana off-base and then comes on base with it in their system, that’s allowable as long as they are not driving, he said.


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