Friday, June 20, 2014

Some accountability with drinking

Over dinner, my wife relayed an interesting conversation she had with the wife of an Air Force Officer I know from college.  He had volunteered over the weekend to sit on a hotline to drive drunk service members home, and wanted to see if I would volunteer as well.  My wife kindly declined for me, since I had watch, but she was rather irate at being asked in the first place.

In her mind, it was simply enabling bad behavior.  She couldn't understand how Sailors could afford enough alcohol to get drunk, yet then not have enough sense to arrange a ride before or pay for a cab.  She was then further insulted when it was apparently my responsibility to give up my time on the weekend when I already work later than most of the problem children.

At that point, I realized how much brain washing we do in the Navy.  How often do we glorify the guys that sacrifice their time for such endeavors, and never ask whether we are simply enabling the behavior in the first place?  It's similar to our glorification of the guy that spends all his time at work, letting his family life completely deteriorate while destroying his subordinate's initiative. 

Why have we failed to realize that the people that go out, get drunk and then endanger the lives of our fellow citizens are in fact criminals and not children?  We treat them like they are little kids, who make little mistakes that we can simply poo-poo.  This couldn't be further from the truth!  They are 21 year old men and women, who can vote, volunteer for Naval service, kill others and get killed while performing very complex jobs that the US Navy pays very good money for them to do.  We have gone from punishing them to punishing our leadership.  We make the chief and the division officer waste their weekend and their family time to coddle these adults. 

And then we use lines like "we'll judge each case individually" to allow us to let people off the hook.  It doesn't stop people from getting stupidly drunk without a plan, and it takes our attention away from warfighting and places it solely on administrative issues.  Mast could take all of ten minutes and consist solely of reading rights, determining if their was a DUI and awarding punishment. 

This weekend, instead of telling your Sailors about how it's OK to have your plans fail, how about emphasizing that if they choose to not make plans, they are stealing from their Chief and their DIVOs time?  How about a bit of old fashioned shaming?  If you can't make a plan for your drinking at night, your competence as a Navy Sailor, and whether we should retain you for Naval Service, should be in question.

I say this as a drinker and as a home brewer of beer.  I say this as a guy who has no problem throwing back quite a few drinks at a bar and walking home, or putting an extra 20 dollar bill in my back pocket to pay for a taxi, or reserving a taxi before hand so I can drink and party all night and have a guaranteed ride home.  I don't make my department head come out and get me.  I make plans and stick with them because I'm an adult and don't need a babysitter.

If you can afford the alcohol, you can buy your own damn ride home.  Anything less is stealing from your chain of command's time.

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