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Drinking and driving: It's just not worth it

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFPN) -- The holidays are finally here, and that means holiday parties and some down time to let loose, relax and party with family and friends.

While most condone having a good time, ensure you have a plan so you don't end up in the new "civilian below-the-zone" program. We all know the program: It takes a bright, young Airman and makes them a civilian in no time and is usually accompanied with a dishonorable discharge -- all because of not having a plan.

The Air Force continues to draw down numbers to a current number of 316,000. So knowing that cuts are going to be made, why put yourself in a situation that has the potential to turn into an alcohol-related incident and put yourself at risk?

Yes, it is bad to ruin your career over one night of drinking. Although there is nothing in writing stating your career is over if you receive a citation for driving under the influence, we all know it is very likely.

I've know too many good Airmen who could have been outstanding leaders in our Air Force. Instead, they got the early exit because of an incident that could have easily been prevented.

Losing a career is bad. Losing a life is worse. A good friend of mine took it a step further and ended his life; all due to making a decision to get behind the wheel after drinking.

My teacher, mentor, and friend took his own life after receiving his second DUI. He felt that his career was going to be over and that his children, one with special needs, would lose all benefits and he would not be able to take care of them. He took what he thought was his only way out, and in the process devastated his family, friends and a group of young Airmen that looked up to him, me included.

All of this could have been avoided in a multitude of ways. Every base I've been too has had an Airmen against drunk driving program, which provides a free ride home with a simple phone call. One simple phone call and the Air Force would still have an excellent technician and I would still have my friend.

Some folks are still worried that calling Airmen against drunk driving will somehow get back to their unit and will reflect badly upon them. This is ludicrous and it's a poor excuse -- not a reason, but an excuse -- and is easily remedied. Call a cab!

The price of a cab compared to the price of dealing with a DUI is a bargain. It may seem strange, but when 2 a.m. rolls around and the bars begin closing, cabs start coming out of the woodwork looking to take people home. Don't let money be an excuse why not to use this available resource.

Let's make sure we look after each other and ensure that any preventable incidents are actually prevented. We cannot afford to lose our people to senseless acts of irresponsibility.

The affects of losing those close to us have lingering ramifications, trust me I know. So enjoy the holidays and have fun with your friends and family, but try to avoid making a decision that will have long-lasting consequences on your career, or what would be left of it. Don't let yourself or someone else drive after drinking.

Drinking and driving; it's just not worth it!