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Navy revamps anti-alcohol campaign

Apr. 25, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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With alcohol-related incidents on the decline but still a concern among Navy leaders, officials are replacing the 17-year-old “Right Spirit” education program with “Keep What You’ve Earned” — a campaign to remind junior sailors that one drunken episode could cost them their career.

Sailors E-4 or below are responsible for the bulk of the fleet’s alcohol-fueled mishaps, and that percentage hasn’t dropped even though the fleet’s overall incidents have fallen in recent years.

“That younger group of sailors is who we are targeting — 17- to 24-year-olds,” said Fleet Master Chief (AW/SW) April Beldo, the top enlisted adviser for the chief of naval personnel. “We want to treat them as the adults they are but also share with them that along with being an adult comes responsible decision-making.”

Like Right Spirit before it, the Keep What You’ve Earned campaign tells sailors of the risks associated with alcohol use. But there’s a different angle, Beldo said — one Navy leaders hope will appeal to their target audience.

“So many times as leaders, we get caught up in telling sailors ‘Don’t do this’ or ‘Don’t do that,’” Beldo said. “This tone is highlighting that they’ve accomplished things in the Navy and we want them to keep them, so be responsible and don’t risk those successes by getting in situations that result in circumstances where they lose these things they’ve achieved.”

Spreading the word

The campaign comes months after the Navy began a fleetwide rollout of Breathalyzers — what leadership calls alcohol detection devices. And while the new program began during Alcohol Awareness Month, Beldo said the message will be year-round.

Officials plan to hold a fleetwide poster contest, with the winning design distributed throughout the Navy. But another product in the works may speak louder to the target demographic: a mobile application that includes a role-playing game.

The app, slated to be rolled out this year, lets sailors create a sailor-avatar and “help that character make choices about what they do in their free time, how much they drink and other decisions like planning a safe ride home,” said Sharon Anderson, spokeswoman for the chief of naval personnel. “The decisions are linked to a simple, shuffleboard-like video game that becomes more difficult when the players allow their avatar to make irresponsible drinking decisions.”

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