OKINAWA, Japan --
Responsible use of alcohol is an important part of keeping Marines safe and out of trouble throughout their careers. Senior enlisted leaders at III Marine Expeditionary Force shared wisdom on drinking responsibly, as well as ways to plan for a fun and safe time with friends.
Marines should look for alternatives to drinking, as one night of irresponsible behavior can lead to serious incidents resulting in fines, loss of rank, or jail time.
“I’ve seen plenty of Marine’s careers ruined because they drank alcohol and got behind the wheel,” said 1st Sgt. Liam D. Williams, Headquarters Service Company, III MEF Support Battalion.
Marines are held to a high standard no matter of rank. The same rules, regulations, and expectations of conduct are set for every Marine, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Jorge Delosrios, the operations and plans chief for III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“I think the biggest thing we can do is lead by example. If you want to hold your Marines accountable, you have to hold yourself accountable to those same standards,” added Delosrios.
Williams said there are plenty of fun activities that don’t involve alcohol, and senior leaders should share that information with Marines to give them fun ideas of what to do during their time-off.
“One thing I often talk to my Marines about is fishing,” said Williams. “It is one of my favorite things to do out here. I make sure they know about the Single Marine Program as well. The SMP is always putting together activities and events.”
The Single Marine Program offers recreational and volunteer activities, including sports, paintball trips, and local sightseeing. When Marines participate in such activities, they are more likely to have a good time without drinking.
“Preventing these incidents comes down to education,” said Williams. “Leadership needs to take an interest in their Marines and make sure they have information of what is available to them.”
Part of that awareness is the importance of planning. Williams said the use of weekend safety briefs and planning forms help guide Marines as they prepare for a weekend, holiday, or leave period. Marines who think through their plans can avoid putting themselves in bad situations.
“Before going out, make sure you have a buddy and have the discussion of who is going to get you home safe,” said Williams. “Who is bringing you home should be something you figure out before leaving, not once you get to your destination.”
Prevention can be as simple as limiting the opportunities for individuals to get behind the wheel. Delosrios said he leaves his keys at home before going out to drink. Williams doesn’t drink outside of his house without having a designated driver.
Though there is always temptation during liberty, there are also great benefits to strengthen individuals and units. Marines are encouraged to spend time together, responsibly enjoy their time off and build camaraderie as it is essential for mission accomplishment, said Williams.
“If a Marine trusts their leadership and the Marines around them, they will attack an enemy without a thought, but if they don’t have that-- if they don’t trust those around them, they will always think twice before going and accomplishing the mission,” said Williams.