By Mollie Miller, 1st Inf. Div Public AffairsDecember 13, 2011
Safety briefs aren't just for Fridays anymore.
This idea that safety must be broken out of traditional "Friday Briefs" and be part of every conversation regardless of day, time or topic has led the Soldiers of C Company, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division to more than 1,400 days free from alcohol or drug related incidents.
"Our safety briefs are everyday," company 1st Sgt. Jeffery Gaines said. "We listen to the Soldiers and we know them because we are talking to them on a day-to-day basis. Because we know them, because we are a family, we can spot issues or problems before they arise and take care of them before they get too big."
In recognition of their continuing commitment to excellence in relation to safety and substance abuse prevention, Big Red One leaders and representatives from the post's Army Substance Abuse Program presented Gaines, company commander Capt. Lisa Halvorson, Unit Prevention Leaders Sgts. Christopher Rimer and Kyle Roudebush and the whole Crusader team with the "Encased Saber" during a S.A.B.E.R ceremony Dec. 8.
"Long gone are the days when a commander or senior noncommissioned officer simply scared people into listening," 1st Inf. Div. Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Sasser said. "Saving a career and, sometimes, saving a life requires outside the box thinking like this. This is a great accomplishment."
The S.A.B.E.R. (Sober Armies Bravely Expedite Readiness) Incentive Program recognizes units that have "made a commitment to avoid substance abuse." The incentive program offers awards based on a variety of criteria including amount of time the unit has been free from alcohol and substance related incidents and adherence to ASAP training requirements. The length of time units meet all criteria is what determines which level of SABER award they receive. The encased saber presented last week is the highest level of the incentive program and recognizes the Crusaders as the "best of the best," according to Fort Riley ASAP Prevention Coordinator Nicole Sizemore.
Army Substance Abuse education programs that have included presentations by a Soldier and a Family Readiness Support Advisor who have both lost loved ones to drunk drivers combined with leaders who don't see safety as just another block they have to check is what sets the Crusaders and all of 601st ASB apart from other units and places them in the best of the best category, according to Gaines.
Halvorson said there are many reasons her company is able to maintain the notable alcohol and substance incident free record but, at the end of the day, it comes down to engaged leaders at all levels who listen and use their resources to take care of Soldiers.
"You have to see your Soldiers and listen to your Soldiers," she said. "You can never be too busy to listen to your Soldiers."