Great Big Podcast launches series for KISS campaign

By Janecze Wright, Fort Cavazos Public AffairsJune 13, 2024

A group of people pose for photo in front of a backdrop that partially reads, "Keep it a Safe Summer (KISS) Campaign."
Representatives from the Fort Cavazos Army Substance Abuse program pose with Soldiers in front of the Keep it a Safe Summer, or KISS, backdrop to kick off the campaign, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Representatives from ASAP sat down with the crew of the Great Big Podcast as part of the KISS series to promote a safe summer. (Photo Credit: Photo by Janecze Wright, Fort Cavazos Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — When the Department of Defense encourages everyone to KISS, it’s not referring to the smooches planted on cheeks or blown through the air, but rather keeping it a safe summer for Soldiers, family members, veterans and civilians throughout the organization and beyond.

The DOD-sponsored Keep it a Safe Summer campaign is aimed at mitigating high-risk behaviors associated with the bustling summer season.

The annual campaign is observed from Memorial Day through Labor Day, coinciding with the 101 Critical Days of Summer initiative to increase awareness of potential risks related to off-duty recreational activities during the hottest, most active days of summer.

To expand on the push to enjoy a safe summer and promote the KISS campaign all season long, the crew of the Great Big Podcast is presenting a series of podcasts featuring various Fort Cavazos directorates and organizations to discuss how to enjoy summer festivities safely.

The podcast kicked off the KISS series just before the Memorial Day holiday with representatives from the Fort Cavazos Garrison Safety Office who highlighted the importance of vehicle and motorcycle safety on and off the installation during the busy summer season.

“The KISS campaign is important because it affects everyone,” said Michael Hampton, director of Safety for III Armored Corps, during the podcast. “Our mission as the Corps is to send troops anywhere in the world at any time, and we have to be ready for that. Recreational activities, whether it’s vehicles, motorcycles, weapons, hunting or anything else; if we lose a Soldier, that affects readiness. If we lose a family member, that affects the Soldier. So, everything has a cascading trickledown effect.”

“It is imperative that we take care of each other and have fun in a safe manner,” he added.

Taking care of one another is what the KISS campaign is all about, conveyed Ronald Smiley, Fort Cavazos Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator, and Jannan Melendez, Fort Cavazos ASAP prevention branch chief, during the second episode of the Great Big Podcast KISS series to raise awareness about alcohol and substance abuse during one of the most celebrated seasons of the year.

“The ASAP goal this summer is to highlight and raise awareness of using alcohol during the summer months and trying to protect one of the number one resources — the Soldiers themselves,” Smiley said. “This campaign gives the leadership right here on Fort Cavazos and III (Armored) Corps the opportunity to speak to Soldiers about drinking and driving.”

The podcast focused on the safest ways to enjoy some of the most popular summer activities, like drinking, boating, swimming and traveling.

Smiley said having a plan in place, ensuring there is a sober designated driver or a rideshare available, celebrating at home or celebrating without alcohol can help ensure Soldiers have fun in a safe manner.

Melendez added conducting self-assessments, analyzing habits, identifying what needs to change and being aware of surroundings are also vital to keeping festivities safe.

“Decisions happen in the blink of an eye and that can have a lasting impact on not only yourself, but others,” she said. “And, sometimes, we don’t think it will happen to us, but it can, and it does, and it will. So, we really have to be intentional and be mindful of what we are doing.”

Melendez also put the KISS acronym in perspective to better understand its impact.

“We kiss the ones that we love … that we hold dear, so when we allow ourselves to be inebriated or be in a state where we’re not as reactive, we’re not able to truly care for those that we love, the ones that we hold dear,” she said. “I’m always wanting to encourage people to think about the things that we plan for and those that we don’t plan for. So, I want to encourage everyone to keep it safe so you can sustain. Keep it safe for you, keep it safe for others.”

Smiley reiterated the sentiments by reminding those at the Great Place to think about the three “F’s” — family, friends and the future.

“Everybody deserves to have a good summer, and we want to see everybody back safely,” he concluded.

To listen to the full episode, go to