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101 Days of Summer campaign encourages Soldiers, families to curb alcohol incidents

 

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

 

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (June 1, 2021) – Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, more service members’ lives are lost to both on- and off-duty mishaps than any other time of year.

This is why the Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program is promoting a 101 Days of Summer campaign to raise awareness and encourage 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers and families to be responsible, mitigate risks and enjoy the season safely.

“This is the time when the weather is getting warmer and there is less COVID restrictions in place, so people are getting out more,” said Bill Van Orman, ASAP specialist. “The message we want to get across this summer is about limiting your alcohol intake so you

can still have all the fun activities and not put yourself and others at risk.”

Van Orman said that alcohol increases risk in every summer activity imaginable. 

Units across post can earn a DWI-Free guidon streamer by going the entire summer without a DWI (driving while intoxicated) incident, as part of the Fort Drum Army Substance Abuse Program’s 101 Days of Summer campaign. (Fort Drum ASAP photo)

“A large proportion of accidents we see over the summer are alcohol-related. Whether they are boating or swimming accidents or DWIs, there is a pretty good chance that someone was not drinking responsibly,” he said.

Van Orman recently highlighted some facts and alcohol-related scenarios in a 101 Days of Summer newsletter for the Fort Drum community. In that, he noted that when adults drink, it impairs their ability to supervise their children.

“I mention in that how would parents would be feel if the babysitter showed up at their house with a case of beer or a bottle of wine?” he said. “There’s no way we would allow that, so then why is it acceptable when it comes to our own drinking as parents?”

Alcohol can also be a contributing factor in domestic violence, child abuse incidents, and suicides.

The ASAP staff will set up a 101 Days of Summer informational table for community members at various events this month, including the Mountain Mudder, Mountainfest and Bike Rodeo.

Additionally, they are challenging every 10th Mountain Division unit to go the entire campaign without incurring a DWI incident to earn a DWI-Free guidon streamer. ASAP also gives out a streamer for units who go an entire year without a DWI.

“This gives a unit bragging rights in front of other units in formation, and it gives the battalion commander leverage to recognize their Soldiers for something good,” Van Orman said. “People might brag about how much alcohol they can consume, but when you’re in formation, no one brags about getting a DWI. That comes with a lot of repercussions.”

ASAP is not alone in communicating safe summer practices, as the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) and Exceptional Family Member Program also have upcoming events scheduled to get out the message.

“The typical summer accidents we want people to avoid are things like leaving children and pets alone in hot cars, backyard incidents like leaving a grill unattended or a young child in the pool unsupervised,” said Tom Wojcikowski, FAP educator. “Then when alcohol enters the picture, you see people making bad decisions.”

FAP and ASAP are promoting a Rise Above Challenge, asking community members to climb five miles of elevation while carrying 29 pounds in June, July and August.

Wojcikowski said that the weight represents the number of people who die in drunk driving incidents every day.

“For us, this is just a creative way of getting those numbers out there and in people’s minds,” he said. “Not everyone thinks about statistics like 29 people die each day because of drunk driving or five children die each day from child abuse. We can put out all sorts of flyers with stats, but when we challenge you to carry that weight, it can have a greater impact.”

The challenge is open to all Fort Drum community members, and participants are encouraged to submit selfie photos to the FAP or ASAP Facebook pages when they reach a monthly goal.

“One of the goals we have is to see if we can get entire units to participate, or you get your whole family to do it together,” Van Orman said. “Soldiers ruck every week anyway, so this is something they can easily support.”

With cyberbullying and online scams on the rise – and making local headlines – FAP will host “A Conversation about Internet Safety” from 6 to 7 p.m. June 21 at the Main Post Chapel. Detective Carrie Mangino from Jefferson County Sheriff Department will lead a discussion on safe online practices and current threats and trends.

“This is in response to the recent suicides in St. Lawrence County because of online predators, so we partnered with the Sheriff’s Department for a parent and teen workshop,” Wojcikowski said. “This is really important discussion on how to recognize online predators and how to have that discussion with your children about the risk of posting or sharing things online.”

Wojcikowski said that this would be a good forum for Soldiers to attend as well, since they are often the victims of cyber crimes.

For more information or to reserve a seat, call FAP at (315) 772-5914.

Additionally, a Summer Safety Luau is scheduled July 22 at the new Soldier and Family Readiness Division Enrichment Center, Bldg. 10262 on 4th Armored Division Drive.

“We just started having our parenting classes and playgroups there, so we plan to make this a grand opening for the Enrichment Center and also promote the theme of safety at the same time,” Wojcikowski said.

FAP is also partnering with USO throughout the 101 Days of Summer campaign to have running boards with safety information projected on the screens at the Heritage Center, Bldg. 10502 on South Riva Ridge Loop. Community members can attempt to play a video game while wearing “drunk goggles.”

“It’s something that might seem simple, but people are always surprised when they have so much trouble doing it,” Wojcikowski said. “I think it really gets the message across.”

Sharon Chaple, Exceptional Family Member Program manager, is also supporting the 101 Days of Summer campaign with a couple of events for family members.

“What we are doing is a little different, but it’s about finding safe, fun activities for our family members,” she said. “In June and July, we have scheduled some EFMP bowling, and then a ‘Back to School’ get-together in August with different organizations on post to help children get ready for a new school year.”

To learn more about summer safety and how to prevent common seasonal injuries and mishaps, visit https://www.safety.army.mil/MEDIA/Seasonal-Safety-Campaigns/Summer-Safety-2021.



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