base information

Avoid DUIs during holiday season with a wingman plan

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Recently, the 366th Maintenance Group was briefed by a retired Gunfighter who is a long time advocate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. She passed on some valuable information we all hear time and time again, but the issue continues to be an epidemic in our society.

The holiday season is one of the deadliest times of the year for alcohol-related crashes. MADD estimates that across the nation more than 1,000 people typically die each year in drunk driving crashes from Thanksgiving to New Years.

Drinking and driving is more prevalent as the consumption of alcohol increases with the number of special events and parties. Ironically, drinking and driving crashes are one of the most easily preventable catastrophes. Drinking and driving is a choice each driver makes.

Mountain Home AFB is not immune to these potential tragedies as is apparent in our number of driving under the influence charges each year. For the last three years our DUI numbers have been climbing steadily: 2007 had 30, 2008 had 26 and for 2009 we are already at a staggering 25 and are likely to surpass the past two years if we do not make better decisions immediately!

Thankfully there is not a death or injury with each DUI, but the potential is always there. As a first sergeant, I have received several phone calls informing me that members in my squadron had been arrested for DUI and I have always been fortunate enough to breathe a little sigh of relief when I hear "no casualties/injuries involved." However, in that next breath I also ask myself, where was their wingman? How many of the 25 DUIs this year could have been prevented if these people had a wingman with them? It seems like a simple concept, but too often a good plan goes awry and the result are careers and lives lost in an instant.

If you get a DUI the only good thing that is going to come from it is living to suffer the consequences. The rest is all bad. You may have injured or killed someone and will possibly spend a large portion of your life in jail and your career is over. There are also financial implications, which at a minimum will cost you about $10,000 with fines and lawyer fees. If you hurt or kill someone, this number is apt to increase with lawsuits from the survivors or their families. So, ask yourself, "Is it really worth it?"

I would plead with you that this holiday season you "have a plan and a wingman." Enjoy yourself and get home safe. Take care of your friends and loved ones to ensure they get home safe as well. If you see someone who looks like their "plan" has fallen through, please step in and be a "fill-in wingman" and don't let them make a mistake they will have to live with the rest of their lives.

A good wingman would never deny someone a ride home if there isn't another wingman around or forget the option to call Airmen Against Drunk Driving. Or, how about pulling out the recall roster that's in your wallet and dialing up a peer, supervisor or first sergeant? These people would much rather pick you up at the local bar or club than the drunk tank or at the scene of a horrific accident.

Take care of yourself and your fellow Gunfighters! Have a happy holiday season, a plan and a wingman and come back safe to us in 2010.