Age Restrictions on alcohol Relative to Military Eligibility The topic of age restrictions on alcohol relative to military eligibility is a controversial subject mainly in the military light not so much on the civilian side of the track. If you consider the concept of “deontology” than it basically leaves decisions up to a moral commitment and obligation of the individual. Ethical Egoism is along the same lines as deontology in stating that the individual should make the proper decisions based on ones morale. This paper will explore this ethical issue in detail and also my personal feelings on age restrictions on alcohol relative to military eligibility. For countless young adults in this country, signing up to serve and protect our freedom is a concrete career prospect. It allows them to grow up and learn responsibility while offering them educational and financial benefits. Within the first year that they enlist, they are broken down and rebuilt to withstand many different destitutions and vigorous situations that the standard civilian would have no clue how to handle.
They are handed a gun, and taught to kill when necessary; risking their lives for our freedom. Yet, when they get off, they are not even allowed to have a drink with their colleagues without imminent legal consequences. Old enough to be a war hero yet not old enough to consume an alcoholic beverage; an ethical issue exhibiting an array of ethical problems such as, inconsistent respect issues and abuse of given rights. The military breeds their recruits to live, breath, and uphold higher standards than their civilian counterparts for many reasons. The primary reason being because they will have to endure many more hardships and stressful situations therefore, they will need to be able to make the right decisions during those times no matter what age they are. After training they entrusted with the notion that they may need to step up and take charge at any given moment. I’ve been in the Air Force over 4 years now and I have personally seen the downfalls of alcohol consumption with airman of and under age.
Whenever I hear the saying “Old enough to serve, old enough to drink”, many thoughts go through my mind. Compared to college freshmen, there is a lot of supervision and control in a military environment. On campuses around the country, binge drinking is prevalent and sometimes problematic. This is not to say that it doesn’t happen in the military but there is so much more structure to the lifestyles of soldiers, sailors, etc. College and high school campuses provide much more independence. Teens often sneak into their parents’ bars when they’re away and imbibe without supervision, and most often without parental consent. I’ve heard stories of how when elder members entered military service in about 1985 and they say that then it was the norm for the military to have two beers during lunch. It was being phased out, but the older soldiers held to the tradition. There were quite a few Vietnam vets still in at that time.
When they went to places like Germany, they would have beer tents set up after exercises and all of the soldiers would be allowed to drink their fill. During the nineties, the policy changed to the State’s legal age, based on the location of the particular Post or Base. Since I am a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, I do think that my younger subordinates should be allowed to drink on post if they are 18, but of course this is not the case. The minimum legal drinking age was established to protect our young people and help lessen the loss of life due to alcohol related fatalities as stated in a statistic in 2005, 2,035 youth ages 15 to 20 were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes, translating to 33 percent of all traffic fatalities in that age group. The military is very clear when it comes to under age drinking. Underage drinking is not tolerated.
Although underage is defined by the host country the military is very straight forward and saying that the US rules of 21 years of age and older are still in effect. If you are caught underage drinking, you are subject to UCMJ. If you supply an underage Airman with alcohol or see them drinking and don’t stop them, you are subject to UCMJ as well. The UCMJ can affect a military member in many ways from garnishing wages, taking rank, and discharge from the service. Those who are of age sometimes have a problem with knowing their limit and planning accordingly for a night out. On many occasions I have seen military members well above the drinking age intoxicated beyond belief and getting into street fights etc. I have to say age isn’t always a huge factor when it comes to drinking. There are plenty of responsible 18 year olds who can drink on a more responsible level than their subordinates. I don’t see a problem with maybe a two drink maximum for those under the legal drinking age.
I do understand that no matter the age or place there are always going to be individuals who simply cannot make good choices. That’s just a part of life and experiences but that should not punish those who signed on the line to fight for their country and deal with the stress of day-to-day life as a military member. Sometimes simply having a glass of wine after a long day is needed and helps to just calm ones self. The military places lots of guidelines and responsibility on its members in various subjects. Why not trust the troops to have a drink or two on base at the age of 18. The idea of “deontology” basically says that it’s up to ones moral commitment and obligation on the choices made. The members are committed to serving their country and obligated to always represent the US Armed Forces in a positive light.
If an individual under the age of 21 can resume that responsibility that shows a huge value of character in itself. There are various reasons and concerns with the lower of the drinking age to 18 for military because of the fatalities and other issues we face when it comes to alcohol consumption. I do understand the cons to allowing members to engage in alcohol before 21 but as I’ve stated before I don’t believe that age is a deciding factor on how people will act when consuming alcohol. Considering the structure that is presented to the troops Any one who has been in the military or around the military know how huge “morale” is in every branch. Ethical Egoism backs up my opinion of allowing those under 21 to consume alcohol on installation because it is the belief that decisions should be based on the morale of the person.
The problems with underage drinking DoD wide can be minimized or possibly under more control by adjusting the age. This however would put more responsibility on the members of the military but it may have a positive affect in boosting morale. The members may feel more trusted thus wanting to keep the privilege of being able to have a drink that they will help monitor the other members around them.
The topic of age restrictions on alcohol relative to military eligibility is a controversial subject mainly in the military light not so much on the civilian side of the track seeing it affects the military directly. If you consider the concept of “deontology” than it basically leaves things up to a moral commitment and obligation. Ethical Egoism is along the same lines in stating that the individual should male the proper decisions based on morale. This paper will explore this ethical issue in detail and also my personal feelings on the issue.
* http://www.journalgazette.net/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080821/EDIT07/808210412 * http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/a/drinkingage.htm
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