Action Line 70901 Alcohol Abuse Message

  • Published
  • By Anonymous
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
CONCERN: I felt compelled to ask about something that has me a little disturbed and has me questioning, "What is Senior Leadership thinking?" and "Why on earth would they have chosen Ruthie Alcaide as a person to impact our Airmen on such a volatile issue as Alcohol Abuse?"

I'm not exactly sure who gave the o.k. for this event, and I'm not trying to ruffle feathers, but I wanted to know what determining factors made it okay for Incirlik to graciously accept Miss. Alcaide's offer to talk with the Airmen of Incirlik?

I'm prior military and was a certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor of eight years. When I heard that Miss. Alcaide was coming here, my first reaction was "What, you can't be serious."

This young lady, sober or not, leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to her life and how she lives it, post-rehab. And when it comes to finding someone who can connect with our Airmen on an intimate, personal level, I don't think that she's the one to do it.

Sure, she's around the same age as many of the Airmen who may get into alcohol-related situations, but that's where the connection ends. She's not military, and she doesn't know what it's like to live the military life.

Further more, some of the things she stands for and her "relationship choices" go against what is allowed in the military. Also, when someone goes through counseling and rehab and has had such a severe alcohol problem, they are highly encouraged to disassociate themselves with "slippery persons, places and things" to eliminate the possibility of finding themselves in relapse.

How can she encourage our Airmen to do the same when she doesn't practice this? If you view her Myspace page, it's full of disturbing images that I don't feel senior leadership would want our Airmen to mimic. This sends a mixed message to our Airmen and I think her "whole-person" should have been researched a little better before putting her in front of our Airmen to present as someone to look up to or emulate.

Instead, I think it would have made a higher impact to have people come and talk to our Airmen who have lost family members, or their Air Force careers over alcohol and drug problems or were hurt or maimed in substance related accidents ... that are actually part of our military community.

It just bothers me that this person, who appears to not be living the true life of an individual whose done rehab and is committed to their sobriety is put before our airmen to compel them to change their behaviors. The only thing that's changed about Miss. Alcaide is that she doesn't have a bottle in her mouth. Her lifestyle is still the same ... and that's not what rehab, counseling,
12-Steps and sponsors ┬Čencourage.

Response:

Thank you for your passion as we try to deal with this complex issue, I can assure you our passion is just as strong. As such, we have persued a variety of methods that we feel may help mitigate our number of Alcohol Related Incidents and teach members of Team Incirlik to drink responsibly.

These methods have included late-night alcohol-free activities, strict enforcement by holding people accountable, briefings and commander's calls and testimonials as you describe in your letter.

Just the last few weeks we ran a one-hour video full of testimonials of victims as you described, as a mandatory viewing for all our personnel.

As for Ms. Alcaide, the wing's senior leaders made the decision to bring her here many months ago after learning she would be visiting U.S. Air Forces in Europe and speaking to several bases on what she learned from her experiences with irresponsible drinking.

I decided to make attendance at her event mandatory after the spate of ARIs in July and August. With regard to the factors that went into those decisions; the answer is simple ... we learn from all kinds of examples. As I have gone through my career I have learned from not only good leaders but from bad, military and non-military. We can sometimes learn a lot from those who made poor choices and those from other sectors of America besides the military.

I attended the briefing and would say it was a success. The focus was on drinking and had nothing to do with her other "lifestyle choices." She discussed the impacts of drinking to excess on her life and how it should be avoided. All in all, a very good talk.

While I agree Ms. Alcaide's lifestyle is not a model for Air Force core values, I believe she articulated our desired message. I applaud you for your zeal in dealing with this problem as that is what it will take from all of us to end this serious threat to the safety of our community. Thanks again for your inquiry and please stay engaged!