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BREAKING NEWS

Army safety briefing for soldiers reassuring

Guest Column

The heavy dew glistened across the division parade as the sun began to rise towards midday. A gentle, cool breeze swept across our cheeks toward the back of the field beyond the displayed helicopters, Humvees and tanks.

Under the 101st Screaming Eagle Banner stood soldiers, accompanied by their leaders, aligned shoulder to shoulder, in formation, waiting for the command to move forward in unison.

This was the setting of my unique honor and experience as I observed the 75th anniversary of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division Review. From the sounds of the marching bands, cannons roaring echoes of thunder, and a plethora of flags waving in the wind– it was breathtaking. The view of thousands of our beloved soldiers, men and women, standing at attention during the review and marching in cadence past the reviewing stands was inspiring.

What moved me the most was being afforded the opportunity to observe a company safety brief, which was held at the end of the week. The safety brief was for Headquarters Company, 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, and centered on a number of topics, all pertaining to the soldiers’ safety. The safety topics covered not only on-base issues but off-base as well.

Some of the topics that were emphatically stressed are as follows:

— Alcohol: The soldiers were instructed about underage drinking. This is not allowed either on or off the base. Those of legal age that consume alcohol are to drink responsibly and not to drive if they have more than the legal limit. They were reminded that if drinking causes them to be belligerent, then they should not drink at all. They each should have a battle buddy to make sure they stay on the right track. If they have a problem with alcohol, they are to seek help and assistance from the company commander, first sergeant, and subordinate non-commissioned officers. They were informed that there are support programs available to help them with this addiction.

— Spouse/Home Life: It was emphasized that if there is abuse, marital strife, or both, that again the Army provides support for these problems, from counseling to more intensive programs. They continually told the soldiers that if they have a problem with this to immediately seek help and assistance from their fellow soldiers, first line supervisors, commander or first sergeant.

— Positive Choices: This was continually repeated throughout the safety brief — the importance of using your head to think out a positive solution before a situation is created, and to not rely on emotions but facts when doing so.

— Boat Safety: Reminders were given about the importance of no excessive drinking while boating, knowing and following the rules of navigation, and wearing a life vest at all times.

— Situation Assistance: The command and first sergeant informed the soldiers that whenever they are involved in a negative situation to call them, 24/7, and assistance will be on the way. They even gave the soldiers their cell phone numbers to contact them.

As a parent of a soldier, the contents of this briefing made me extremely proud of the Army; they have taken huge strides to ensure our sons and daughters are safe, not only when they are in their hands but also when out in the public. This umbrella of safety should put at bay some of the concern of parents, and hopefully answer some questions as well.

My personal thanks go out to all of the officers and sergeants who make the safety of our loved ones a priority.

Daniel J. Paul is a recently retired school administrator with a 39.5-year career in public school education and administration. His articles focus on education, old-fashioned family values and relationships. Go to his website at meaningfuldifferences.net to see archived articles and to leave feedback.

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