Incidents involving alcohol drop, Navy says
April 24, 2009
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Alcohol-related incidents in the Navy are down 42 percent since 2004, according to a recent study by the Navy’s Alcohol and Drug Prevention Branch.
The study also cites a 46 percent drop in illegal drug use.
"Only three percent of servicemembers in the Navy contribute to alcohol-related offenses," said Bill Flannery, the director of the Navy’s Alcohol and Drug Prevention program.
Flannery is conducting a series of personnel readiness summits around the Pacific, addressing senior leadership on the best practices from around the fleet on alcohol and drug abuse prevention.
Though Naval forces across Japan have had a number of high-profile alcohol-related incidents in past years, Flannery says that Commander Naval Forces Japan has some of the most robust prevention programs he’s encountered.
One of those programs is Clear Vision, a program run by first class petty officers designed to deglamorize alcohol and provide sailors with alternatives to drinking.
"A lot of people don’t realize all the effects alcohol has on their lives," says Chief Petty Officer Randy Clift, Yokosuka’s Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor.
In September, as the USS George Washington was pulling into Yokosuka to become the Navy’s next forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Japan, the Clear Vision crew was waiting on the pier.
"We wanted sailors to know about their alternatives to drinking," said Clear Vision director Petty Officer 1st Class Homer Thompson. "There’s a lot to do and see around Japan, and we wanted them to know about it."
"We want to make it common amongst sailors to look out for each other — shipmates being shipmates," says Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Godwin, Yokosuka’s assistant Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor.
Clear Vision representatives say the results speak for themselves.
In October and November, Navy installations and ships across Japan reported no DUIs, Clift said.
The Clear Vision group has scheduled a variety of activities throughout the year to promote their cause, such as their "None for the Day" campaign.
As with any addicting substance, though, simply wanting to quit isn’t always enough.
But asking for help is something Flannery says isn’t as awkward as some might think.
"We’re effectively addressing the stigma of asking for help, and we want to promote an environment that says ‘We’re here to help you,’" he said.
With the drastic decrease in the number of alcohol incidents, Flannery said that they’ve seen an increase in the number of self-referrals — a sign that their efforts may be paying off.
"There are no negative connotations for a self-referral," he said. "And you’re a stronger person for doing so."