CC: Have a plan, use a Wingman

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Next week, we will come together as the 30th Space Wing and as Vandenberg Air Force Base for Wingman Day, a day when we will devote time to building relationships, examine our strengths and weaknesses, and plan for the coming year. 

We will take a look at how supervisors get involved and lead in order to sustain our culture of excellence and our culture of responsible choices. Wingman mandatory topics of discussion will include force shaping, mentorship, deployments, accidental injuries and deaths, decision-making, and alcohol-related incidents. 

According to the California Highway Patrol, one American life is lost every 22 minutes in an alcohol-related traffic collision and 50 percent of Americans will be involved in an alcohol-involved traffic collision sometime during their lifetime. If that doesn't scare you, it should. Drinking and driving is a problem in this country, not only for those who do it, but also for those of us who are simply trying to go about life following the rules and doing things right. Safety is as much about you as it is about them. 

In California, the law specifically states that it is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle. It is also unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
I don't understand drinking and driving. I don't understand how someone can willingly break the law. It's very simple to me. If you drink, you don't drive. If you do drink, you have a plan to get back home safely before you take the first sip. 

The split second that beer or alcoholic drink hits your lips for the first time it's too late. By then you've already put yourself in a position to make bad, irrational choices. You'll think things will be okay even if you don't have a plan and even if you have to drive. In movies, everything seems to work out in those situations; they even try to make it funny. I can assure you though in real life, those who plan wake up alive. Those who don't plan, risk killing themselves or, even worse, others. 

There is no excuse for drinking and driving. There is no excuse for thinking you're above the law. If you do it, it's not a matter of if you'll get caught, it's when. One DUI for this Wing is too many. Drinking is dangerous business. 

If you choose to have a drink or two, that's your decision. It affects all of us, however, when you drink irresponsibly or, even worse, get behind the wheel. I think you'd agree that when the lights come up in the bar and the music stops, you aren't in any position to think things through or consider your options. You must have a plan in place well beforehand with dependable, reliable, true friends who care about you and care about being alive. 

Know your limits and know your friends. Be honest with yourself and each other. When the weekend first appears on the radar, get the plan together first thing. Don't wait for the rallying point; don't wait for the ride to the bar. Come up with a plan first and make sure your driver is up to the challenge and willing to pay the huge price of one weekend without any drinks. 

Be one step ahead of the game all the time. You know the rules, you know how you'll feel, and you've seen enough people make the wrong choice to know what's right.
Even if things go wrong, even if the driver in your group lets you down, you still have other options. At that time of the night, you're probably tired, you're probably hungry, and you're probably restless. Through it all, remember that the Vandenberg Command Post at 606-9961 will always answer the phone and connect you with someone who will help. 

You don't need to have a roster or a card in your pocket. All you need is a phone and the courage to prevent a bad situation from getting worse. Your squadron leaders or the Airman Against Drunk Driving team will drop everything to take care of you. All of us just want you back safely. Don't believe for a minute that things will be okay on their own.
Have a plan with your friends before taking the first sip. There is simply no other way to ensure your safety and the safety of everyone else. With the success of the Delta IV launch this past weekend and Veteran's Day this week, do not lose sight of the big picture that is your safety and the safety of those around you. 

Remember to keep your safety and the safety of those around you at the forefront of everything you do day in and day out.