Reversing our DUI trend must be a team effort

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. O.G. Mannon
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
Folks, we're very lucky we're not planning a memorial service this week. We had two DUI incidents this past weekend, and five in less than three weeks. Not to mention a bunch of underage drinking incidents. 

That's a lot of bad decisions in a short amount of time, and we're just plain lucky no one was hurt. 

I know most of you had nothing directly to do with these incidents. But we rise and fall together, as a team. The only way we're going to reverse this trend is to pull together--whether you're a colonel, a tech sergeant or an airman basic. 

That's why I've directed all group commanders to bring their whole teams--permanent party and Airmen in Training--together on Friday to address this problem. 

I've left it to the group and squadron commanders to determine the times or details, but what I need everyone to understand clearly is that this trend is unacceptable and every one of us is responsible for stopping it. 

Some of you may be thinking, "This is just a few young people doing what young people do--you can't stop it." I understand that train of thought, but personally, I attended far too many memorial services in 2008 to leave it at that. This isn't about young people blowing off steam--this is about criminal activity that is going to get someone hurt or killed. 

As commanders, chiefs and first sergeants, we talk about this stuff over and over again-- don't drink and drive--give up the keys, have a plan and stick to the plan. If you're underage, don't drink at all. 

I'm sure a lot of you are tired of hearing it, but we're going to keep talking until everyone gets the message. That's part of our job. Most of us have been around long enough to know that us talking about this issue isn't going to make a darn bit of difference--unless we can somehow manage to inspire the first line supervisors, flight chiefs and Airmen to pick up the flag and join the fight. 

That's what I'm asking you to do--help us win this fight against drunk driving and underage drinking. 

When you see your friends, coworkers and teammates making bad decisions that could get someone hurt or killed, speak up and take action. I know it's hard and I know it takes courage--peer pressure can be tough, and no one wants to be "uncool" or rat out their buddies. 

But peer pressure works both ways. Most of you do the right things and follow the rules, and when enough of you team together and set and enforce the standard, we have a better chance of preventing people from making bad decisions. 

That's what Friday's events should be about--making sure the Airmen, staff sergeants and lieutenants feel empowered to take ownership of this problem and reverse the trend. Until that happens, we're going to keep having these kinds of incidents. And we're going to lose more of our folks. 

There are a lot of great things going on here at Sheppard. I'm constantly amazed and impressed by the things you do every day. I hate to pound my fist on the table when there is so much good happening--but this just can't continue. We can fix it--but only if we each take responsibility and work together. Thanks in advance for your help in reversing this trend!