By Virginia RezaNovember 17, 2008
There have been eight deaths involving Fort Bliss Soldiers this year. In an effort to reduce high-risk behavior, Fort Bliss officials are bringing a multimillion-dollar drinking and driving simulator from Dec. 15 through 19.
The simulator is the only one of its kind in the nation, and this will be the first time it tours the installation. Due to the limited time of tour, the target audience is Soldiers 26 and under. Commanders are encouraged to mandate maximum attendance for their Soldiers.
"We are bringing the simulator here because we want to be proactive," said Joe Crawford, the Fort Bliss Alcohol and Drug Control officer. "The fact is we have a high [driving while intoxicated] rate in El Paso, and right now Texas is leading the nation.
The briefing has been presented to all commanders and they all seemed very enthusiastic."
The Save a Life Tour will provide Soldiers realistic, hands-on opportunities to experience life-threatening mistakes a driver makes when under the influence of different levels of alcohol. A video presentation and even a displayed casket will be part of the training to remind participants the devastation drinking and driving can cause.
"This is a great tool for the new generation," said James Williams, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator. "Young Soldiers can actually feel ... the effects and not just hear talking points. We hope it stays with them after they leave the training."
The simulator will be at Stout Fitness Center on Dec. 15 and 16, and at Biggs Fitness Center from Dec. 17 through 19. There will be two three-hour training sessions each day. The morning session will be from 9 a.m. to noon and the other from 1 to 4 p.m., and 300 Soldiers can be accommodated per session.
"The big thing is that it's coming right at the time of exodus for Soldiers going on holiday leave," said Robert Guile, ASAP prevention coordinator. "We want to give them all this information because we want them to come back."
Crawford said people should think of the consequences when drinking and driving and for not wearing seatbelts before getting behind the wheel.
"Consequences can be detrimental not only to you, but to your family or the family of the person you kill," Crawford said.