Alcohol Awareness Month aims to help people stay safe
April 12, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 12, 2012) -- A few weeks ago, Jesse Hunt took a photo to share with a class he was teaching. The photo shows three white crosses planted on the side of the road not far outside the Enterprise gate.
"Three individuals lost their lives on a straight stretch of road," he explains. "And alcohol was a factor."
Hunt, drug abuse prevention coordinator for the Army Substance Abuse Program, said the accident happened 10 or 15 years ago, but someone still maintains the area. "They're keeping the memory alive."
This month, Alcohol Awareness Month, is a push to preserve those memories and then to share that information with others. "We have to keep the issue out there in front of people so they don't get used to it and say it's no big thing. It is a big thing if it's one of your Family members," Hunt said.
For Traci Dunlap, ASAP clinical case manger, it was a Family member.
"Alcohol Awareness Month has touched me literally, personally today," she said. "I got a call from my mother. The voicemail is still on my phone. She said my father was in an accident. A drunk driver hit him about 9:30 this morning -- him and three other drivers."
Dunlap said her father was able to swerve out of the way and escape injury because he was aware of the cars around him.
"Police told him that if he had not moved the way he did, they would have had a head-on collision. Even if we're not doing anything wrong, we need to be defensive because we don't know what other people are doing," she added. "Unfortunately, we're not going to stop all (the drunk drivers), but maybe we can drive defensively and keep ourselves safe."
This type of situation is the theme of the Save A Life Tour -- the main event of Alcohol Awareness Month. The SALT program, scheduled for April 16-18 at the post theater, begins with a presentation about the dangers of drinking and driving and ends with a chance to drive or watch others drive a state-of-the-art drunk driving simulator, Hunt said.
"It went well last year and that's one of the reasons we wanted to bring it back," he said, emphasizing the tour was an easy way for both Soldiers and civilians to get some of the required alcohol awareness training.
Since the first announcements about the tour, the schedule has been changed to accommodate a few early morning presentations, Dunlap said. On Monday and Wednesday the program will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Tuesday the hours are 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dunlap asks that people call her at 255-7089 to sign up for the program, adding that more than 1,000 people are already registered.
Though the SALT program is only on post for a few days, the ASAP staff is available throughout the year. Hunt encourages Soldiers and civilians who are struggling with alcohol or drug abuse to come to the clinic for an assessment before any kind of serious incident occurs.
"If Soldiers will come in and volunteer, the information that is gathered from the examination cannot be used for punitive purposes," he explained, adding that the number of people who have voluntarily asked for help is higher than it's ever been.
Whether a Soldier requests help or is referred to the program by a supervisor, that Soldier will be assessed and then placed into one of several different programs. The programs range from basic education all the way to inpatient treatment and all the programs can be modified to fit the needs of the individual, Hunt said.
"I tell everyone we're running about a 75-percent success rate," he said.
At Fort Rucker, Soldiers should be aware that a drug or alcohol related incident can ruin a career in Aviation, Dunlap said. "If they value their career, they seriously should think twice before being involved in such activities because that career they had planned on for the next 20 years could be gone."
To make an appointment or for more information, call ASAP at 255-7509.