I can say this because I have witnessed it as a member of the military myself: Alcohol use is still a huge part of military culture – and the level of denial regarding the negative impact it has on the military is ENORMOUS. As I type this, I am on my way back from a military workshop on resilience. A majority of the information presented there centered around a focus on the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health of our service members as a way to determine and build resilience. Drug and alcohol use has a direct impact on all of these areas of a person’s life (not to mention other negative impacts: social, financial, legal, your military career, etc). Therefore, one of our top priorities should be educating our service-members on the disease and the risks involved (especially if you have a family history of addiction) in using substances.
Ironically, during the conference – it was repeatedly announced to the room full of military mental health professionals that the conference hotel bar was hosting a “happy hour” from 5-7 with special deals for military members. Sheesh.
Also, every military base I’ve ever visited has a variety of stores that offer discounts on alcohol and cigarettes (and they are tax free too). Can we say mixed-messages?