Managing Alcohol Use In Today’s Navy

1807 words - 7 pages

The military has faced problems with sailors and alcohol abuse since the inception of the navy over 200 years ago. Today, alcohol is a major part of the American culture and is present at almost every major social function. With alcohol so readily available, the question leaders answer is how to manage alcohol use in a way that maintains operational efficiency and good morale within the Navy.

It is common knowledge that during the formative years of the United States Navy alcohol played a major role in maritime life for sailors of all ranks. While out to sea, alcohol was used as a motivating force for the crew of any ship. Larger rations of alcohol were awarded for good performance and for poor performance; rations were limited or denied all together. In that time, this was the standard operating procedure for the military in general and was an accepted practice. Presently, due to the high level of risk involved with today’s Naval operations and the expected level of performance out of every sailor in the Navy, the use of alcohol is accompanied by strict rules and guidelines set by the Navy along with federal laws regarding alcohol in the workplace. According to OPNAVINST 5350.4D, “Alcohol and drug abuse undermines combat readiness and is incompatible with the maintenance of high standards of performance and military discipline” (OPNAVINST 5350.4D, p. 2). “Because of these negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse, the Department of Defense has set forth a comprehensive set of policies and programs to monitor, regulate, and/or eliminate drug and alcohol abuse among military personnel” (Bray, et al, 2012, p. 477). Alcohol abuse affects a sailor’s performance, ability to react to strenuous situations, and often negatively affects the morale of those around them. Sailor’s with alcohol problems can create a hostile work environment and hinder progress of any project underway. It is my experience that people who abuse alcohol often have anger management problems as well. Many people turn to alcohol as a “solution” to their problem which then either makes their original problems worse or brings on a whole new set of problems affecting them financially, psychologically, or even medically. These sailors are likely to have mishaps in the workplace due to lack of attention to detail and could cause serious and harm, and in some cases death, to those around them. These are the reasons the subject of alcohol abuse is vital to address and understand by all leaders.

Unfortunately, junior officers and enlisted are not the only sailors susceptible to alcohol abuse; recently many commanding officers have derailed their careers due to the abuse of alcohol as well (Hughes, Ginnet, & Curphy, 2009). To be appointed commanding officer of a command, one must have a record of successes in their career. Yet, with one alcohol violation or mishap, their careers are immediately derailed and they are unceremoniously separated from the Navy. Alcohol leads to poor...

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