Holloman's war against DUI

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aaron Montoya
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Holloman is taking a new approach in the war against driving under the influence. As Airmen exit the base, the median has been lined with signs spotlighting the names, rank and punishment that Holloman Airmen have received as a result of being convicted of a DUI both on and off base.

DUI is not unique to the Air Force or military service, and many believe it will never happen to them. How can you get in trouble if you drive home just this one time, right? Wrong. No one is safe when a person chooses to drive after drinking.

Airmen generally understand the immediate consequences of being pulled over and failing a field sobriety test, but what is less understood is the lasting effects a DUI conviction has on the rest of their life.

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Thompson, 49th Mission Support Group superintendent, is taking charge to help ensure the safety of Team Holloman by educating Airmen about the consequences of DUI. His goal is to reduce the number of DUIs and ensure Airmen know the negative impact they could have on their career and future.

"I don't think we will ever eliminate DUIs," said Thompson. "But if we can decrease the number of them and make someone safer, or even, if they see the signs and think 'Maybe I should have a plan for tonight', then I think the signs are a success."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, DUI kills nearly 30 people a day in the United States. Many times it is not the offender that suffers, it is their friends or family, or even the family of their victims that are left copping with loss and financial burdens.

Posting these signs is a new concept for Holloman and is part of a larger program to inform and deter our Airmen from making mistakes that will end their career and more importantly, place lives at risk. The effects of DUI extend beyond just your career. They can be catalysts for issues at home and work. The added stress caused by DUI is something that will be felt and shared by everyone close to the offender.

Education is the key to preventing DUIs. The more Airmen know about the consequences and repercussions, the more likely they are to have a plan when drinking.

"I think the signs will generate some conversation, it will reemphasize some focus and hopefully get some people to think about DUI," said Thompson.

Another educational tool being rolled out is the Holloman Court Reporter, a monthly publication of the 49th Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. This document, which is accessible on Holloman's main web page, is a brief description of the administrative actions taken by the 49th Wing on a month-to-month basis.

"I love the fact the new Court Reporter came out in conjunction with the signage. I think one of the main problems was people were unaware of the consequences of DUIs," said Thompson. "The sign shows what the consequences are and the Court Reporter does as well. I think they go hand-in-hand. This way people know something is actually taking place on the back end of the DUI."

In all 50 states, a driver will temporarily lose their driver's license after violating the drunk driving laws. This means the offender has to rely on other methods of transportation, which can take a toll financially. Thompson has seen this first hand many times.

"I was a First Sergeant for almost eight years. I have never picked up anyone from a DUI from Security Forces, or downtown police that wasn't completely remorseful at the time I picked them up. At that point they are thinking 'Oh my gosh, I have ruined my career. What is my wife going to say when I get home tonight? How am I going to explain this to my kids?' Nobody thinks about that prior to getting in the car and getting behind the wheel."

Commanders are constantly reminding Airmen to 'have a plan' when they go out. Ensuring you have both a plan and a backup plan are the key to keeping yourself away from these dangerous situations and will help keep you from ever thinking you need to get behind the wheel after drinking. With the plethora of safety options available such as supervisors, First Sergeants, commanders and other programs created specifically to give intoxicated Airmen a ride home - there is no excuse to endanger your life, and the life of everyone else on the road.

"If they had a plan that night, and they followed through with that plan, they probably wouldn't have ended up in that kind of situation afterwards," said Thompson.

Thompson feels strongly about keeping Airmen from drinking and driving, for their sake, their family's sake and the sake of everyone else on the road, and would like this new plan to keep more Airmen safe.

"I think DUI kills careers, it discredits us to our local community and it ruins lives. The real danger of DUI is that you can really injure or kill somebody."

"Ultimately I would love to achieve zero DUIs for Holloman, but I think that's and unrealistic goal. If we can save even one Airman from getting a DUI that would be a great success in my opinion."