Air Force aims to reduce alcohol-related incidents by 20% in 2007

By LISA BURGESS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 10, 2006

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force is hoping to reduce the number of servicewide alcohol-related offenses over the coming year from about 5,000 in fiscal 2006 to 4,000 in fiscal 2007, a top-ranking officer said Friday.

The 20 percent reduction goal is part of the 2007 Culture of Responsible Choices Campaign, a program that targets a full spectrum of high-risk behaviors, according to Lt. Gen. Arthur Lichte, assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force.

Lichte, who is also chairman of the Air Force’s Community Action Information Board, said the service is also setting a 25 percent goal to reduce drug offenses from 1,000 in fiscal 2006 to 750 in fiscal 2007.

“When an airman makes a good, smart decision, it helps mission effectiveness,” Lichte said Friday at the Pentagon.

The program is particularly focused on younger, single airmen. “I want 18-to-25-year-old airmen to be a 45-year-old chief some day,” Lichte said.

Young people often feel invulnerable, but “if you make bad choices, sometimes you won’t get those opportunities. … We want to make sure we take care of them.”

Culture of Responsible Choices, or CoRC, is an expansion of the “0-0-1-3” responsible drinking campaign that began at F.E. Warren Air Base in Cheyenne, Wyo.

The slogan 0-0-1-3 stands for zero underage alcohol use, zero driving while under the influence, or impaired by alcohol, one drink per hour and no more than three alcoholic drinks per evening.

Whether it is inside the military or civilian communities, there are very, very few examples of alcohol-reduction programs that have actually proved effective with young people, said Air Force Maj. Steven Pflanz, chairman of the Air Force’s Integrated Delivery System (a committee that oversees base services that support airmen and their families).

But the F.E. Warren program was a resounding success, leading to a 68 percent drop in alcohol-related incidents in a single year and bringing it national recognition, said Pflanz, who is a also an Air Force psychiatrist.

The program worked because the entire F.E. Warren community — from the base commander down to individual leaders at the squadron level, spouses and civilians — became involved, Pflanz said.

Officials worked to provide alternative activities for dorm-bound airmen that gave them things to do besides drink, such as late-night movies, computer centers, pool tables, midnight basketball and club meetings.

“It’s a mind-set of how people should be thinking,” he said.

“If [CoRC] can save one life, that’s what it’s all about,” Lichte said, “especially during this holiday season,” when people have a tendency to drink more and take more chances than normal.

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