Alcoholism runs in a lot of families in America and it has had an impact on my family. Alcohol is one of those things that is always ready and available at my house and it seems like the first two questions that are asked are; how are you? Want a beer? When I first joined the Army my mom was afraid that joining was going to be my path to alcoholism. Furthermore I was first stationed in Germany, the beer was plenty and the drinking age was 18. My mother was so worried I was going to follow the family tradition of booze and I guess she had good reason to worry. But why is alcohol and being a soldier synonymous? Next time you watch a military movie look for the booze, it’s there, it’s always there.
Alcohol is a coping mechanism that has been used by soldiers past, present and future to hide the scars of war. I have a few friends who have physical scars of war, but every friend who has been to war has emotional scars. The easiest way to forget is to drink. During any deployment everyone always talks about how much they are going to drink, what they are going to drink and what they miss most about drinking. I’m not saying that every soldier is an alcoholic because that is far from the truth. However a good number of soldiers have at one point in their post-deployment depression used alcohol as a vice.
I have had my fair share of trying to cope when I get home. Like many before me the easiest way to hide my sorrows is to drink it away. As I look back at my problem now I can’t believe how bad it got. I can remember drinking a 12-pack every night and being able to wake up the next day like nothing happened. This was definitely a low point in my life and is hard to talk about. Too many soldiers turn alcohol and can end up ruining their career over one night, one mistake. A great Platoon Sergeant of mine once told us this; you can be a master mason your entire life, everyone knows you as a mason, but if you kill one person because of alcohol you will forever be remembered as a murderer. The point he was making is that all the good we do during a deployment, the pride our family has in us, the pride our nation has in us, can be ruined by one night of drinking.