MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- In a Department of Defense worldwide survey taken every two years, the Marine Corps leads all military services in alcohol use.
Not helping this disturbing trend is the fact that extended liberty periods have a statistically higher alcohol-related rate. This is why reinforcement of the Arrive Alive Program for this upcoming Labor Day holiday is a priority for the command, said Headquarters and Support Battalion commanding officer Col. David R. Leppelmeier.
The program provides a card to Marines and sailors that lists cab companies that will take the Marine back to base where the Officer of the Day at Bldg 60 will provide payment of the fare from a fund – provided that the Marine has his Arrive Alive card.
"It's about a young guy having an option after consuming alcohol, running out of money or having their designated driver becomes the 'least drunk driver' to get back to the base safely," said Leppelmeier.
The fund of $160, enough money for a cab ride back from Wilmington or Moorehead City, was created from donations from staff non-commissioned officers and officers.
However, this is not a hand out, said Leppelmeier. Marines are expected to pay back the OOD no later than three days after use.
There are no consequences for use of the program if you are 21 years or older, he said. "We had two Marines use it three weeks ago and they came back the next day and paid the OOD back with out any repercussions."
Underage drinking is punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and will be prosecuted accordingly, said Leppelmeier. But if a Marine younger than 21 drank, "he already made one bad and discipline-requiring decision [by underage drinking] that night, but if he uses the card it will save him a possibly fatal second bad decision by getting behind the wheel of a car."
Lance corporals or below are for the most part under 21, so for Labor Day the command is requiring anyone traveling outside of the local area to submit 'trip plans' to their staff non-commissioned officer in charge for review, said Leppelmeier.
These plans will be assessed for the time and distance of travel, time of day that the travel is occurring, potential weather issues and a vehicle inspection checklist filled out by their supervisor added Leppelmeier.
"I can't make decisions for them but I want to do everything in the commands power to help Marines be safe, effective and stay in the fight," said Leppelmeier.