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Navy: Summertime alcohol-related incidents cut in half

Sep. 13, 2013 - 09:16AM   |  
The Navy's 'Keep What You've Earned' responsible-drinking campaign appears to have paid off over the summer.
The Navy's 'Keep What You've Earned' responsible-drinking campaign appears to have paid off over the summer. (Navy)
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The Navy’s anti-alcohol abuse program ramps up during the summer months, when sailors are more likely to be drinking at outdoor parties or holiday cookouts. This year’s efforts, under the “Keep What You’ve Earned” banner, have included everything from testimonial videos to posters to sailors holding handmade signs at base gates prior to long weekends.

Whether the outreach efforts are resonating is hard to determine, but the figures make a strong case: The Navy had 707 alcohol-related incidents from Memorial Day to Labor Day this year, compared with 1,478 in 2012, Navy data show.

“This decrease shows sailors are taking ownership of the issue,” Rear Adm. Sean Buck, head of the Navy’s 21st Century Sailor Office and overseer of the anti-drinking program, said in a recent news release. “As with all our programs, we look to sailors to make responsible choices in their personal and professional lives.”

The outreach comes on top of the imposition of forcewide breath tests earlier this year and new restrictions on booze sales on base. The numbers suggest the multipronged effort is making headway.

Drunken driving incidents also dropped — from 318 last year to 172 this year, Navy data show. The DUI figures are included with the alcohol-related incidents, which cover any offense “punishable under Uniform Code of Military Justice, or civilian laws, committed by a member, where in the judgment of the member’s commanding officer, offender’s consumption of alcohol was a contributing factor,” according to the Navy.

The Navy doesn’t plan to slow its campaign, officials said, and it may have the next focus area: At a recent all-hands call in San Diego, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert said that while there are fewer incidents, the amount of alcohol consumed by those involved in such incidents has gone up.

“Of those who who drink too much, they’re drinking a lot and getting themselves in trouble,” he said. “So the issue with alcohol consumption isn’t that we’re all drinking less, the issue is we’re having less incidents, but those incidents we have, alcohol plays a major part and it’s getting worse.”

The fleet has seen a rise in alcohol-per-incident rates “through surveys and anecdotal information,” Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel, said in a Thursday statement. He called it “a trend we intend to focus on and ultimately reverse by continuing to address alcohol dependency in a proactive and responsible manner that provides dependent sailors the help they need to recover.”

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