When last I took keyboard in hand, I proposed that the COVID-19 pandemic was saving Soldiers’ lives because governments and leaders were managing hazards for them, thus decreasing risk. I went on to say that as local governments and commanders loosen restrictions, risk management will fall back on Soldiers. This short article is just an update to inform you that the trend continues.
Earlier I reported that in March and April, the Army recorded 12 fewer Soldier off-duty deaths than during the same months in 2019. That number was actually 13, as one case slipped past my counting (8 vs. 21 corrected). As of the end of May, the gap grew even wider: only three fatalities for the entire month, compared to 11 last year. So, during the three spring months of 2020, 11 Soldiers died in off-duty mishaps compared to 32 in 2019.
Those 11 Soldiers are each and every one significant and cannot be discounted, but that’s a 66 percent reduction in off-duty Soldier fatalities from one year to the next. That’s 21 Soldiers who are alive today. I wish I could claim our safety programs are responsible, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that COVID-19 restrictions are having a significant impact on Soldier behavior and saving lives.
I again ask you to consider your activities as restrictions ease across the force. The Army did not lose a single Soldier over the Memorial Day weekend. That doesn’t happen very often. It would be the worst kind of tragedy to survive a pandemic that killed thousands, only to die in a vehicle accident because you were careless or over- exuberant in your celebrations of a return to normal. As more authority is given back to you, it is up to you to manage the risk associated with it. Let’s keep these numbers down and you where you belong ─ with your formations and your families.
Readiness Through Safety!