The weekend of March 29 through 31 is an alcohol-free weekend promoted by the Army Substance Abuse Program. It begins the April alcohol awareness month said Brandon French, Army Substance Abuse Prevention coordinator.
"I think it's really important to hold this event because it provides us an opportunity to get out to the community to take a little bit of reflection," he said. "How much do we actually consume? And so, if I completed the challenge and felt uncomfortable through the weekend because I didn't have a drink -- that should trigger some kind of a thought that 'maybe I should have that looked at. Maybe I should go and seek some guidance from a counselor, someone to talk to and you know hey I was alcohol free for the weekend and kind of struggled.'"
French said ASAP focuses on low-risk drinking behaviors categorized as zero, one, two, three.
"The low-risk drinking guidelines that we pulled from Prevention Research Institute, what they look at as low-risk guidelines is zero drinks if I have an alcohol dependency illness or I'm going to be driving -- zero drinks," French said. "The other low risks we look at for the one, two, three is no more than one standard drink an hour, one to two drinks daily, no more than three in any given day. That is really what we are going to focus on, the low risk guidelines and why the low risk guidelines are there."
On top of the health related issues associated with drinking, there are impairment related issues that could result from drinking, French said.
"We're talking about the sexual assaults, the sexual harassments -- I'm in the club, I had more to drink than I realized and those things kind of happen," he said. "The idea behind it is, if I follow the low risk guidelines then I can be in control and I don't have to worry as much. It's doesn't mean there is no risk, it just means that I'm at low risk. That's really what we're going to focus on the zero, one, two, three guidelines."
With those impairments in mind, ASAP has partnered with the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention office to combine efforts to reach the Fort Riley population.
"What it does is allow us to combine campaign events and reach a larger audience with a more expanded message," French said. "The two messages tie in really well."
The two organizations will host a myriad of events during the month to include two movie nights at Barlow Theater, a longest drive competition and a cornhole tournament at SpareTime Interactive Entertainment.
"We should be able to get more throughout there because it's just going up hitting three balls real quick," French said. "We should be able to get a good amount of the population that wants to do it. There is no fee associated to it, they just come in, sign up, hit three balls. We will break it up into divisions, male and female, 34 and under and 35 and over. We've got trophies for the winners. It's just trophies and bragging rights. That's the 17th of April."
The cornhole tournament will be April 13.
"Right now we are looking at about 16 teams is what we think we can get through in pretty much an afternoon," French said. "We're looking at starting about noon until complete. I think it will go to about 5 p.m. There are four cornhole sets, we will run them through and we will have to put a time limit on each bracket. We're looking at 30 minutes. Wherever they are at, at 30 minutes, it's going to be whatever team is in the lead. That way we can put some predictability in, I win the first round, when am I playing again. We wanted to have some predictability in that. The cornhole tournament is another trophy and bragging rights."
According to paperwork received from the Staff Judge Advocate Office, a Soldier who is caught drinking and driving can face, at a minimum, an Article 15 with a loss of two months pay, reduction in rank, 45 days confinement and 45 days of extra duty. At maximum, Soldiers can receive up to 18 months confinement in a federal prison along with a dishonorable discharge or a bad-conduct discharge and total forfeiture of pay.
"If you drink, drink responsibly and don't drive," French said. "That is the message we always tag on to everything. Even if you are drinking low risk, low risk does not mean no risk. If you are going to be driving, zero drinks. Anything can happen and it doesn't have to be .08. I mean, you can be cited below .08. Although I'm at low risk, it doesn't mean none. Our recommendation is nothing to drink if you are going to drive."
With spring and summer months, French said the alcohol related incidents tend to climb. He said that ASAP is not preaching abstinence with regards to alcohol, but maintenance low-risk behaviors if consuming.
"We use the word responsible to a minimum, because anybody's definition of responsible or moderation can be different," he said. "We're really wanting to focus on the zero, one, two, three. That is what we actually know as low risk. If I say responsible drinking and this person's definition of responsible drinking is, 'well as long as I don't have more than a six pack and as long as I'm not driving.' A six pack and not driving can still lead to an alcohol related incident. We're really trying to preach that zero, one, two, three."