As the end of the fiscal year approaches, four companies in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team can take stock of their successes in preventing drunken driving offenses within their ranks.
Combat engineer, military intelligence and signal paratroopers assigned to three of the units, companies A, B and C with 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, said there are many reasons why they personally choose not to drive under the influence of alcohol. They also said they are committed to making sure their battle buddies make it home safely too.
For Spc. Michael A. Lotero, getting a citation for driving under the influence is not an option because of the impact it would have on his livelihood.
“I joined the Army to make a career out of this,” Lotero said. “I chose to do this with honor and discipline and I wouldn’t do anything to mess it up.”
The 21-year-old combat engineer said the consequences he’d face would also be felt by his four-year-old son, Jason, and his three-year-old daughter, Madison, as they could lose their healthcare benefits if he was administratively separated from the Army as the result of a DUI.
Lotero said when he drinks alcohol, he takes a taxi or uses a driving service.
Another way to avoid a DUI citation is having a designated driver.
“Nobody wants to be that … dude getting stripped of rank and pay and getting kicked out (of the Army) when he could have just picked up the phone,” said Spc. Jacob A. Clarkson.
Clarkson, a combat engineer who is underage to legally drink alcohol, said it’s just common sense to seek alternatives to DUI. He said his unit has been successful at preventing DUIs because everyone works together as a team to make sure all of the paratroopers make it safely home.
Spc. Whitney L. White and Spc. Ashley M. Camacho, both of legal drinking age, cited their concerns over the safety of their Family members as the reason they choose not to drive drunk.
White said she wants to be around for her 5-month-old daughter, Arabella. She said growing up in a small town she saw many Families affected by drunken driving and said she prefers to avoid unnecessary hardships on her Family.
Camacho, a signal paratrooper said she doesn’t drink and drive because she thinks of how she would feel if a drunken driver hurt her little brothers, or if she, herself, were to hurt someone while driving under the influence.
“I could never really apologize,” Camacho said.
Some of the paratroopers shared their stories of loss.
“He was a really good leader and pretty good (noncommissioned officer), somebody I wanted to be like when I moved up,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan J. Powers of a friend who was killed by a drunken driver while the Soldier was on rest and recuperation leave.
The 25-year-old military intelligence paratrooper said because of the loss of his friend, he’s dead-set against drinking and driving and makes sure his paratroopers know that he will make sure they get home safely.
Sgt. Adonte J. Emanuel said he also makes sure his Soldiers and battle buddies know they can always count on him for a safe ride home. His DUI-prevention technique is not drinking alcohol in the first place.
Emanuel said he is a designated driver for his friends about once every two weeks.
“It alleviates any stress over the weekend just to know they’re safe and that I took care of them,” he said.