Thanksgiving is the first of many holidays that we will celebrate as a community between now and the coming New Year.  On this special day, we remember the 110 Pilgrims who bravely left the security and familiarity of their home in England in 1620, to pursue religious freedom in the New World. We must also remember that while our tables will be filled with food and surrounded by loved ones, there are those who will spend Thanksgiving away from their Family and friends.

Over the next six weeks, our Soldiers and Families will travel to various destinations around the country.  Thanksgiving weekend is statistically the highest traveled weekend of the year.  The crowded roads and the potential for adverse weather make this holiday one of the most dangerous in terms of potential traffic accidents.  It is especially important that we, as leaders, ensure that our Soldiers and their Families are aware of these potential dangers.  In an effort to prevent accidents and fatalities over this holiday all military personnel will complete the following tasks with assistance from their unit leadership:

Receive an end-of-duty-day safety briefing from unit commanders and first sergeants prior to being released for the weekend.  This will include privately owned vehicles/motorcycle safety, alcohol and DUI prevention, travel safety, weapons safety, fatigue, off-limits establishments and other off duty safety issues as appropriate.  Additionally, leaders will discuss winter driving hazards such as black ice and vehicle survivor packs, road conditions and delayed reporting procedures.

Complete the TRiPS travel risk planning system prior to any travel beyond 150 miles.  This risk assessment is available at https://safety.army.mil/.

Conduct POV/motorcycle safety inspections.  This inspection will be conducted by our first-line leadership on this installation.

Update battle buddy rosters and review battle buddy responsibilities with each Soldier.

Conduct and revalidate the requirements /counseling on the Installation Motorcycle Policy.

Alcohol and drug abuse continues to be a challenge across our formations and must continue to be addressed.  The abuse of alcohol and other substances have been a factor in the majority of our recent serious incidents.  The use of these substances impairs judgment and often leads to career ending events or criminal charges.  We have agencies that provide assistance to our Soldiers and their Families who are struggling with alcohol and drug issues.  Units need to ensure that Soldiers are aware of these tools and have access to them.

I am extremely proud of all that our Soldiers accomplish each and every day and very humbled to serve this great corps.  We must not forget those Soldiers and Families who are unable to return home to be with their loved ones.  I ask you to invite your fellow Soldiers over to share a meal and companionship with your Family.  All personnel should know that their leaders care about their safety, both on and off duty.  Beth and I wish you and your Families a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. Keep safety in mind and please take the appropriate safety precautions regardless of your weekend activities.

All the way!