If you assume this article is just another example of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center (USACRC) or your chain of command preaching about the hazards of off-duty activities or highlighting the number of fatalities we’ve had over the past year, think again! This article is to remind you to think before you act — simple and to the point. Should you find yourself in an off-duty situation where you have the ability to make a decision — such as do I get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking, do I let my fellow Soldiers play with a privately owned weapon after consuming alcohol, or do I ride my motorcycle at a high rate of speed in a reckless manner? — then ask yourself the following questions using the acronym “DEATH:”
- Do I — “Do I have a choice?”
- Expected outcome — “Do I know the expected outcome of my actions? Could it result in injury or death?”
- Am I — “Am I putting myself and/or others at risk?”
- Thought — “Have I thought through my options?”
- How am I — “How am I going to feel if I accidentally kill someone?”
In other words, “Is what I am about to do going to result in potential injury or death to myself or others and do I have a choice not to participate?” Speeding on a motorcycle, for example, is a choice. So is playing with a privately owned weapon after you or your fellow Soldiers have been drinking. Neither are good choices and they do not pass the common-sense test. But it proves you have a choice.
The choices you make will forever affect you and many others if you kill yourself and/or someone else, like a fellow Soldier or even a civilian. Do you need to be told that drinking and driving can lead to an accident or fatality? The answer is, “No!” You have heard this countless times as a Soldier and a civilian. Yet, drinking and driving accidents still occur and Soldiers are killed.
Generally, there are other factors in addition to alcohol, such as speed, distracted driving or lack of seat belt use, that combine to create an enhanced opportunity for death. So why didn’t you or your fellow Soldiers think before you acted? If you were a passenger in a vehicle and you knew the driver was drunk but still chose to go along for the ride, you are just as guilty of being stupid as the driver is for choosing to operate the vehicle.
Had you asked yourself the quick questions using DEATH, you would have come to the conclusion that 1) You have a choice; 2) You do know the potential outcome(s); 3) You are putting yourself and others at risk; 4) There are other options; and 5) How will you feel if the driver killed someone else? There is never a valid excuse to killing someone through negligence. You had a choice and you chose wrong! Now you must pay the penalty, which, if you are dead because you killed yourself through negligence, affects far more people than just you. Your assets and estate can be taken and your family is left to pay the bills for your stupid mistake! And it’s all because you chose wrong.
“Stupid is as stupid does” translates to “one's actions indicate one's level of stupidity (or intelligence).” If you choose to engage in lawbreaking activities while off duty and you end up killing yourself, a fellow Soldier or Soldiers, or a civilian or multiple civilians, then you really are stupid.
Remember DEATH. Ask yourself the questions to determine if what you are about to do is going to result in the potential injury or death of yourself or others. Realize that you have the choice to not participate. However, if you decide your off-duty actions are worth DEATH, then stupid is as stupid does!