GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria community leaders and support agencies recently introduced the Alcohol Incident Reduction Initiative to decrease the abuse of alcohol and resulting risky behaviors in the community.

To support the efforts of the Bavaria Health Initiative, the Community Health Promotion Council started the initiative to reduce the number of alcohol related incidents and promote a healthy drinking culture through projects such as the recent proactive policing safety stops.

"The initiative came about because we had an increase in incidents that were alcohol related," said Melissa Kreitzer, Community Readiness and Resiliency Integrator. "Everything from drunk driving, under the influence activities, incidents of misconduct, suicide behaviors, assaults. Alcohol ends up being an element of these behaviors that we were seeing arising, so we had to take action."

The intent of the initiative is to make sure that the Soldiers are fit and ready to fight.

"It takes the Soldiers out of the fight," said Kreitzer. "If they have a problem, if they become addicted to alcohol or substance abuse, if they have an issue of misconduct or something like that, it affects the readiness."

The initiative focuses not only on the Soldiers but on the community as a whole.

The aim of the initiative is to endorse and encourage healthy life skills so that alcohol is not a person's number one option. Such encouragements can be trips in the community or healthy living activities, participating in the United Service Organizations, volunteering in the community, getting involved in one's unit or other activities, "something other than: alcohol is your first choice," said Kreitzer.

Past projects and events included mandatory training about substance abuse, information tables and AFN spots to bring awareness to the community, Dinner's On Us in partnership with the USO where nonalcoholic beverages were served, and the recent proactive policing safety stops.

"What we were looking for was building a positive policing relationship with the community and a proactive posture. It's not an enforcement, but an assistance. We wanted to show them that the police aren't there just to write tickets or correct you when you're not doing the right thing, but they're there to help you," said Kreitzer.

According to Kreitzer, last month's efforts reached several thousand Soldiers, family and community members.

To keep up the initiative and further spread awareness, more projects are planned in the future. In the summer, the Army Substance Abuse Program will do a Summer Sense Program. Further collaborations with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the Department of Emergency Services, Safety, Better Opportunity for Single Service members, and AFN are planned. An example is the Designated Driver Campaign in partnership with MWR.

The overall goal of the Alcohol Incident Reduction Initiative is a five percent decrease every year for alcohol related incidents.

"We've got a lot going on," said Kreitzer. "We understand that this needs to sustain throughout the community as we have new people coming and other folks going. Keeping that message fresh in their minds. We want to be an able, healthy, ready force."

Have a plan, be aware and ask for help. If you, a family member or a battle buddy have a problem, contact the ASAP Office at DSN 569-7905, CIV 09641-70-569-7905.