Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Eyer
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Eyer is the command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center.

The 2010 holiday season is upon us. One of the best things about the holidays is having time to spend with Family and friends, and for many of our Soldiers, their Family members and our Civilians, visits like these are long overdue. Between deployments, assignments in locations far from home and the daily rigors of Army life, the holidays are often the only time Soldiers can relax and catch up with their loved ones. This downtime greatly benefits our Soldiers and the Families who support them, contributing to the overall resiliency and well-being of our total force. But it also provides a perfect opportunity for spouses, parents, siblings and other relatives to engage with their Soldiers and each other on safety, especially regarding driving and other off-duty hazards.

During last year\'s holiday exodus, we lost four Soldiers to off-duty accidents. Three of these deaths occurred in privately owned vehicles during the late evening or early morning hours in parts of the country affected by severe winter weather. The fourth fatality was a Soldier, home a little more than a month from a rotation to theater, who accidentally shot himself with a newly purchased handgun at his parents' house. All four Soldiers were on leave away from their duty stations at the time of their accidents, highlighting the critical need for active Family engagement when supervisors and peers aren't there to correct unsafe behavior.

While every individual is different and no single approach will work with all Soldiers, parents and spouses often know what it takes to reach their loved ones. Leaders are missing out if they don't leverage this influence every day of the year by involving Families in their safety programs and sharing information when needed, beginning with the holiday season. The lessons learned during this critical time can pay great dividends throughout the new year and enhance Soldier safety both on and off duty. Leaders can find great ideas and tips for involving Families in their safety programs by checking out the Family Engagement Kit on the USACR/Safety Center website at https://safety.army.mil.

Although the holidays are sure to be busy, we can't forget about our Band of Brothers and Sisters during the coming days and weeks. Take care of your buddies and remember to look out for those who don't have holiday plans. And for those of you continuing the mission through the holidays - whether downrange or at home station - ensure your peers and subordinates stay focused even though their minds may be somewhere else. Be extra vigilant, watch for those Soldiers who might be having a hard time and share the ways you've coped during holidays away from home. Never underestimate the positive impact your "war stories" and kind words can have on a struggling Soldier.

Finally, arm yourself with the best knowledge available to fight the hazards of cold weather. Snow and ice make for great fun on the slopes but are extremely dangerous on roadways, and winter weather, alcohol and speed are nearly always a lethal combination. This year's Army Safe Fall/Winter Campaign includes videos, posters, media articles and a toolkit that Leaders, Soldiers and Families can use to build safety programs and enhance safety awareness. The full campaign is available on the USACR/Safety Center website via the "Campaign Corner."

I wish you all the best the season has to offer and many blessings throughout the coming year. Wherever you are and whatever your plans, have a happy and safe holiday!

Army Safe is Army Strong!

Page last updated Mon December 6th, 2010 at 10:58