Chief's challenge for the holiday season

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Burrell E. Hancock
  • USAFE Safety
'Tis the season for turkey dinners, decorations, office parties, DUIs, sexual assaults, and premature death. 'Tis the season to be jolly but how jolly will the KMC be this year? 

Without a doubt, our KMC servicemembers are amazing, day in and day out. We work hard, deploy, win awards, volunteer, mentor children and foster meaningful relationships with family and friends. However, behind all the hard work, awards, college courses, and volunteering, lies drunk driving, child porn, sexual assaults, suicide attempts, spousal abuse, and alcohol related incidents. 

Did you know one male KMC servicemember was sexually assaulted every 40 days in fiscal year 2008? Did you know one female KMC servicemember was sexually assaulted every nine days? Did you know 95 percent of fiscal year 2008 assaults involved alcohol? Did you know fiscal year 2009 isn't off to a very good start? One hundred percent are alcohol related; 100 percent knew their assailant; 100 percent mil-on-mil. 

What would happen if 95 to 100 percent of mission failure was caused by poor training? What if 95 to 100 percent of fraudulent business practices toward our servicemembers were perpetrated by one local business? I can't tell you specifically what the consequences would be, but something would happen and it would happen decisively and quickly. 

Well, a problem has been identified here in the KMC and it's time to do something decisive about it. Excessive alcohol consumption is becoming more and more apparent and our self destructive behavior is affecting the health of our entire KMC. 

Is this excessive alcohol consumption an exaggeration on my part or are our service members drinking to excess perhaps in an attempt to self medicate unresolved trauma, anger, isolation, hopelessness, shame or lack of self respect? 

You may say, "I don't have an alcohol problem." That may be true, but the only way to be sure is to go without it. I challenge you and your group of friends to abstain from drinking alcohol for two weeks -- 14 days. It doesn't seem like a very long time and nothing may change. But something may. Are you up to the challenge? 

Some believe the problem goes beyond the choices of individuals and extends into the realm of enabling friends, bartenders, drinking establishments and specials, and merchants. Perhaps, each of these groups should be examined to ensure their behavior and practices are beneficial for our community. Our servicemembers and their wellbeing deserve the consideration; their very lives deserve this consideration. 

We've been covering up and cleaning up after poor choices, faulty policy, and lack of accountability long enough. I challenge you to accept this 14 day break and see what you're truly made of. You are empowered to accept this challenge. You: the individual. You: the group of friends. You: the duty section or squadron. 

Know you are not alone. With help from chiefs, commanders, first sergeants, chaplains, Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, and Family Advocacy counselors, you can make it through this holiday season mishap free, fatality free, sexual assault free, suicide free, ARI free, DUI free ... just plain free. You CAN do this. 

Let's work together to make this season a season to remember... fondly. Our entire community's health and wellness depends on all of us acting now. Chief, standing by.