Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Susan C. Damman
PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors gathered in USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) hangar bay for a “Tackle the DUI” tailgating event, Sept. 17.
The event promoted healthier lifestyles and raised awareness of the effects of alcohol with informational booths and football themed activities. By arming their peers with information, John C. Stennis Sailors hoped to prevent their shipmates from driving under the influence (DUI).
The tailgate was organized by the ship’s Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) working with the command Drug and Alcohol Program Advisors (DAPA), First Class Petty Officers Association (FCPOA), Second Class Petty Officers Association (SCPOA) and Junior Enlisted Association (JEA).
The event began on a serious note. Several Sailors told personal stories about alcohol, and what the consequences of driving under the influence have been for them both professionally and personally.
“I think if I could help anybody with my experience, if I could reach out and positively influence somebody, then that would be awesome,” said Chief Fire Controlman Mick Kirby, from Cottage Grove, Ore., one of the guest speakers. “Something I would love people to understand is that when you are dealing with addiction, it’s impossible to beat it without help, and the Navy has great resources to help.”
CSADD set up trivia booths with facts, statistics and common misconceptions about alcohol use.
“We definitely had a few dropped jaws,” said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Annalyss Blanco, from Apopka, Fla., who set up the booths for CSADD. “People were surprised by some of the statistics.”
Blanco said Sailors seemed staggered to learn that each day 28 people in America die as a result of drunk driving crashes, and one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. Blanco also said few of the Sailors she talked to were aware that carbonation increases the speed of alcohol absorption.
As the event continued, it began to more closely resemble a tailgate party with football games playing on a large inflatable screen, and snacks and cotton candy provided by the SCPOA.
JEA provided goggles that simulate how drinking alcohol can distort your senses. Sailors tried to throw a football through a goal post while wearing the goggles.
“If you can’t throw a football into a post with drunk goggles on, how are you going to drive a car,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Regan Edwards, from Ocean City, Md., and JEA president. “Hopefully people take this seriously and the awareness goes up. I hope people realize that the consequences of drinking and driving are more than losing rank or losing money. It hurts more than yourself.”
At the FCPOA booth, Sailors were invited to sign a banner pledging to never drink and drive.
“I don’t want to promote people not to drink; I want to promote responsible drinking,” said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Robert Hodor, the command DAPA. “I know people are going to drink, just be reasonable about it.”
Hodor also said if any Sailor is having a problem with alcohol they should talk to one of the DAPAs. They are there to help.
John C. Stennis underway training for future operations after conducting carrier qualifications and completing flight deck certification.