ADC’s Tips for the Holiday Season

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With Thanksgiving almost upon us, as well as Christmas and New Year's around the corner, we are truly in the midst of the holiday season. Unfortunately, what should be a time of happiness can quickly sour if you are not vigilant. Here are five tips to ensure you won't need the Area Defense Counsel's services this holiday season.

1. Don't Drink and Drive

Whether it's spiked eggnog, wine from one of our local vineyards, or a home brew, libations have become standard at winter celebrations. There is nothing wrong with having a drink, but if you don't have a plan, it could cause you a legal headache worse than any hangover. It doesn't matter your rank, it is too easy and makes too much sense to call a cab or AADD at (805) 606-2233 instead of drinking and driving. A DUI is an easy way to lose a stripe, receive an Article 15, pay fines, or even face jail time.  A single DUI will result in your career being derailed. So, even if you've only had one drink, don't drink and drive.

2. Don't provide Alcohol to Minors

Although our fellow Airmen are old enough to join the armed forces, it is still against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to drink. If you are serving alcohol at a get together, then make sure your underage guests know what is or isn't for the consumption. A simple way to avoid any confusion is to clearly label punch bowls or coolers.

3. Know How Alcohol Affects You

Alcohol has an amazing ability to impair your judgment and exaggerate your emotions. We all know an angry or happy drunk. If you like someone, it will make you love him or her. If you are angry at someone, it will make you hate him or her. So if the holiday stresses get you, then find a healthier outlet than alcohol for your frustration. Turn to a friend, chaplain, mental health provider, or just go for a brief job. I personally recommend the chaplains; they have 100 percent confidentiality and are a pretty cool bunch.

4. Don't Hook Up with Drunk People (or While You're Drunk)

Alcohol impairs your judgment and that of your partner. While a drunk person can consent to sex, he or she can also be so drunk they are incapable of consent. Are you willing to bet you know where the line is? Are you willing to bet you know where the line is? Are you willing to bet the horrible experience of being accused of a sex crime, putting your career on hold, having AFOSI investigate every corner of your personal life for months on end, a federal conviction and mandatory sex offender registration? Drunk sex is simply not worth the risk. Just get the person's number and call them later when you're both clear headed.

5. Live Within Your Means

Be mindful of your expenses. The fancy dinners, expensive travel, and gift giving of the holidays can add up quickly. Although everyone wants to give great presents to their significant other or children, you will be hurting more than helping if you get an Article 15 for failing to pay a just debt, bouncing a check, or shoplifting. There are great resources like the Airmen and Family Readiness Center that can help you with finances - Use them!

Finally, look out for one another, speak up if you see something wrong and be that shoulder to lean on. This can be tough time of the year for fellow Airmen who aren't going home for the holidays. Invite them over and include them in your celebrations. You could make the difference between an honorable career and 20 years of confinement.