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Soldiers attend sobering drunk driving event at Howze Theater

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Jaime Villanueva | Herald

Soldiers watch a video about the consequences of drinking and driving during an Army Substance Abuse Program event Wednesday morning at Fort Hood.

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Fort Hood’s Army Substance Abuse Program ran its twice-annual Save a Life Tour last week at Howze Theater.

The program, which is embedded in the “Tie One On for Safety” campaign, asks participants to tie a red ribbon on their cars and pledge to drive sober. It runs through the holiday season.

“The red ribbon signifies the blood of victims,” said Ron Smiley, ASAP prevention coordinator. “Every 53 minutes, someone dies from a drunk driving accident.”

The Save a Life Tour, a high-impact drinking and driving presentation, ran thrice daily during the first week of December.

Spc. Courtney Scales, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, was one of about 125 soldiers to attend a session Dec. 3.

Scales walked out of the auditorium during the graphic film presentation.

“It’s pretty gruesome, knowing that you’ve seen or known people who have been in these situations,” she said.

This year was her second time viewing the video, which features real-life drunk driving accidents and footage of distraught families following each incident.

After the screening, Save a Life Tour Manager Andrew Tipton shared his personal experience with the subject.

“I want to make a difference and get the word out to be aware of consequences of your actions,” he said. “It can happen to you.”

Tipton’s father was an alcoholic who struggled over the years with drinking and driving. The family came to a crossroads when his father was in an accident on Christmas Eve, causing a great deal of strife for their family.

One in three people will be affected by drunk driving by age 30, he said.

For Tipton, who has a baby one the way in several months, the issue is more important than ever.

“It’s the scariest thing in life,” he said, of knowing how many people drink and drive. The average drunk driver drives 80 times before being caught, he said.

“Drinking affects your decision making ... so make the decision when you’re sober,” he said, suggesting soldiers plan ahead for a safe ride home.

“It was really emotional,” said Spc. Jason Snyder, Warrior Transition Brigade, of the presentation. “It’s overwhelming.”

If the tales of sorrow and images of gore don’t deter potential drunk drivers, Smiley reminded people of the literal costs.

“One DUI can cost between $10,000 and $15,000 over a three-year period,” he said, citing court fees and potential jail time.

According to Fort Hood officials, alcohol and drug offenses are down by 50 percent in fiscal year 2013, compared to fiscal year 2012. There were 48 drug offenses in the third quarter of 2013 versus 75 the same time period in 2012. Alcohol-related offenses totaled 48 during the third quarter of 2013, down from 75.

“This lower trend is an indicator of the effect Fort Hood’s engaged leadership has with their (drug and alcohol awareness programs),” Fort Hood officials said.

A final Tie One On display is at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Mega Food Court.

“I hope it’s effective,” said Pvt. Corey Merrifield, 36th Engineer Brigade, as he finished the drunk driving simulator. Using it, “you don’t feel the car, there’s no inertia—you’re fighting to drive correctly,” he said, further highlighting the effects drinking has on driving abilities.

Contact Madison Lozano​ at mlozano@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7552.

4 images

Jaime Villanueva | Herald

Soldiers watch a video about the consequences of drinking and driving during an Army Substance Abuse Program event Wednesday morning at Fort Hood.

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