The Army took a great step in providing leaders with resources for safety standards with the launch of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center and website. On this website there are thousands of stories telling of fatal soldier accidents, on-duty and off-duty.

While any soldier loss of life is of grave concern, the steps Army leadership has taken lead to one of the all-time low totals in accidental deaths for fiscal year 2010. Still, with 180 reports filed of soldiers losing their life due to some form of negligence is 180 accidents too high. 72% of these reports involved off-duty activity. According to Michael Arite from the 75th Fires Brigade Safety and Occupational Health office, the brigade was more cautious in FY10, as well. Accidents were down from 17 to 13, in the past year. He says that everyone, not just Soldiers, need to pay special attention during the holidays, "they are a time to relax, but make sure to stay aware of your surroundings."

While it will always stand to be a real challenge to leaders and peers with maintaining off-duty discipline and behavior, the challenge directly lies on one another to take care of our Army family. Throughout the holiday season, it is rather likely we will lose a soldier somewhere in our Army to a POV accident involving drunk driving and/or falling asleep at the wheel. When we sign out on leave for the holidays, we are all excited to get home. Millions of Americans will hit the road to drive home to family all across the nation. That is a significant increase of vehicles on the highway than any normal day.

In addition, holiday parties will have quite a few irresponsible individuals driving away intoxicated, creating one of the most unpredictable weapons to threaten you and your family's life. People will leave Christmas lights turned on their Christmas tree in the living room for more than a recommended period of time. Combine this with an easily forgettable chore of watering your tree, there is a potential for a house fire to destroy your holiday season within seconds.

Soldiers are brave men and women who took an oath to defend our country and the American people. With that oath comes a great responsibility not only to ourselves, but our brothers and sisters-in-arms, our family, and our Army as a whole. During this holiday season, keep the Army Values in mind, keep the Soldier to your left and right in mind, and take a moment to reflect on the devastating outcome that could come from irresponsible actions that may be presented to you in your off-time.

Page last updated Fri December 17th, 2010 at 12:27