Shot for shots? Alaska may let troops drink
Published: Sunday, April 17, 2011
Updated: Sunday, April 17, 2011 16:04
Patrick Henry's powerful quote, "Give me liberty or give me death," inspired many to fight in the Revolutionary War. In the state of Alaska, they might be amending that with "and a beer" to start their own revolution.
Alaska has begun talks and legislation allowing Army servicemen under 21 to consume the sweet nectar known as alcohol. The main argument is that if you're old enough to get shot at, you're old enough to order shots.
As fresh as it is to finally hear some type of reform for alcohol consumption for minors in the military, I really hope this is not just another political game of charades.
Long has it been where the rights of the young in the military are pushed and shoved into the back of the room. Years of wars and conflicts initiated deployments of 18, 19 and 20-year-olds, all of them eager and ready to fight for the Red, White and Blue.
The initiator of the proposed bill is Bob Lynn, a Vietnam veteran who is sympathetic for these dedicated soldiers. He said, "If you get shot at, you get a shot."
I cannot speak for the friends and loved ones overseas but I can certainly say that if I am sitting down with members of my unit that just lost a comrade, I would want to be able to drink a beer or toast in honor of a fallen hero.
Unfortunately, the penalties of that action if caught can be severe. About 2,000 of the soldiers in Alaska are under 21, according to Maj. Bill Coppernoll, public affairs officer for U.S. Army Alaska.
People who oppose the bill say that it will increase the number of arrests of young, drunk soldiers driving back to base from local bars. To be fair I respect their concern, but if the drinking age was lowered I think a set of rules for designated drivers would be conceived.
The first reason this law will pass is the influence of Alaska's nearby Canadian Yukon Territory, where the age to drink is 19 years old. The second reason is time, seeing how more young soldiers are maturing with a sense of responsibility.
Two other service industries, fire prevention and law enforcement, can and will be affected. There is a similar theme here: If you are old enough to put your life on the line in the act of duty, you should be able to order an alcoholic beverage.
The focus should not be on the age but the job function, although the leaders of these active-duty services fear that the young ones will develop unhealthy habits.
It is textbook knowledge that if one person is told not to do something they will do it. But if they are told they can do something, then it will be done in moderation.
The state of Alaska can lose $17 million in federal highway funding if the bill passes because Alaska would be in violation of the national minimum drinking age statute. Alaska has to be a pioneer in this sense; the U.S. has been lagging behind compared to other countries when it comes to setting drinking age limits.
In areas such as England and Central America, drinking ages are set at 19 or even 15 in other parts of the world, in which armed forces have no effect on the age limit.
Other states in the union are also considering similar legislation: Kentucky, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
Plain and simple, let the soldiers drink if they want to drink. If a 19-year-old lost a leg or an arm and just wants a cold one to relax, then what is wrong with that?
Let's assume the worst: They're going to drink and drive and live the life of an alcoholic. Not to say this isn't a legitimate concern, but to automatically assume that the new statute would create such a malfunction is the equivalent to implying that the sky is falling when a drop of rain hits the ground.