THE PENTAGON — A new study conducted by the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) turned up some surprising results, most notably the fact that 98% of soldiers enrolled in ASAP are social drinkers, which means they only consume 2-3 drinks a week, in social settings.
“It was really baffling to me,” said ASAP Chief Researcher Colleen Lawrence. “We have commander’s risk inventories, ASAP input surveys, and pre/post deployment health assessments. And across the board the results were the same. Almost every single soldier involved in some type of alcohol incident reports that they are just social drinkers.”
According to a source familiar with the study, all of these programs send their results to unit commanders to help them identify which soldiers may have issues with drugs or alcohol.
“I find it hard to believe that a force with almost zero admitted cases of alcoholism or drug abuse can still suffer an average of 275 daily DUIs, 14 weekly alcohol related deaths, and a further 59,400 alcohol related injuries a quarter,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who has demanded answers explaining the discrepancy, and solutions to cut down on the amount of social drinking incidents.
Fort Bragg responded by implementing a program called “Fun and Sober,” offering soldiers alcohol-free weekend events like local youth mentorship and community volunteer opportunities as an alternative to partying at downtown bars and strip clubs.
“Unfortunately we quickly learned that the initiative was a stunning failure of epic proportions, and actually caused DUI numbers to spike during the three weeks of implementation,” said Col. Steve Efram, an 18th Airborne Corps spokesman.
Efram did admit that the program was a huge success among Mormon soldiers and those with no friends.
Fort Carson chose to develop its own “Army Sober, Army Strong” campaign, offering soldiers incentives to stay on post and off booze during their off-duty hours, such as getting to throw a pie in the face of their company leadership after a month of no drinking, or receiving certificates of achievement during close-of-business formations. Unfortunately that too met with abysmal results, according to an officer involved in the program.
Gen. Milley has given force commanders two months to come up with a solution to the problem.