Commander, Submarine Group Two

Avoiding a Million Dollar Mistake
Navy Commander Warns All Who Drink and Drive: "Don't Make a Million Dollar Mistake!"

GROTON, Conn. - With the weather turning warmer and daylight hours extending, more people will be turning to outdoor events or social festivities for enjoyment.  At many of these activities, alcohol may be served.  Because of this, Commander, Submarine Group Two is encouraging all Sailors and their families to practice responsible alcohol use.

“We have all heard about or seen the tremendous personal loss that results from driving under the influence of alcohol.  We don’t want tragedy to visit any of our Sailors because we care about their well-being and safety,” said Rear Adm. Michael McLaughlin.

Navy-wide vigilance about alcohol abuse is now heightened.  Two years ago, a Navy instruction went into effect which requires mandatory administrative separation processing of all Sailors who incur a second DUI at any time in their careers.  This instruction (OPNAVINST 5350.4D) applies to every Sailor in the U.S. Navy.  That means that Sailors will face mandatory separation proceedings if they incur a second DUI at the end of their careers, even if the first DUI was incurred at the very beginning of their careers!  One of the Sailors serving in Submarine Groups TWO (the Sailor’s name is being withheld out of respect for the privacy) is in the process of being separated for his second DUI even though the Chief had over 16 years of service.  This means he and his family will not receive the retirement annuity he would have earned after completing his 20th year of Naval service. 

Let’s think about that for a minute.  The math is not too complicated if we make a few simplifying assumptions.  According to the Social Security Administration, a male retiree, 40 years old, will live another 42 years.  If he retired as an E-7 with 20 years of service, he would earn roughly $2050.00 each month in retirement pay.  If we assume inflation and the cost of living adjustment exactly cancel each other for the rest of his life, we can calculate the value of the 42 years of retirement checks would be just over $1,000,000.  There are financial planners who can perform more complex calculations for us – but the rough math gets the point across pretty well.  Ramifications of driving under the influence of alcohol extend beyond an administrative discharge from the Naval service – depending on the facts of the case, a Sailor may find himself facing a lengthy prison sentence for the results of his actions while behind the wheel and intoxicated.

But there are efforts underway to prevent alcohol-related issues.  To that end, the Navy’s policy on alcohol is Responsible use.  Responsible use is self-imposed limitation on time, place and quantity when consuming alcohol.  Alcohol consumption is never an excuse for misconduct.  Members who think they may have an alcohol problem are encouraged to refer themselves for treatment before an incident occurs and Shipmates are certainly to continue looking out for shipmates!  Alcohol related misconduct is a significant fitness/performance factor.

Group Two is also working hard to encourage responsible alcohol use.  We have a campaign called “Right Spirit” that authorizes commands to fly a “Right Spirit” pennant as long as the Command’s Sailors have not had a DUI incident in the previous year.  The Right Spirit Campaign, initiated by the Secretary of the Navy in 1995, was designed to enhance fleet readiness by the reduction of alcohol abuse and related incidents, to provide a safe and productive working environment, and to ensure Quality of Life while deglamorizing alcohol use.  Team New London commands which proudly fly the Right Spirit pennant include USS PROVIDENCE (SSN 719), USS VIRGINIA (SSN 774), USS NEW MEXICO (779), USS ALEXANDRIA (SSN 757), USS HELENA (SSN 725), AND USS SPRINGFIELD (SSN 761).

In addition, in an effort to curb the needless deaths and injuries attributable to DUI, our Sailors have been informed of a safer option to getting behind the wheel after drinking.  In certain circumstances, commands may be authorized to provide safe rides to Sailors who think they may be unsafe to drive.  In other cases, outside organizations may be there to help.

“I want you to know that we are doing everything in our power to address this problem,” said McLaughlin.  “Alcohol abuse and drug use is costly in terms of life and time lost and is a severe detriment to morale and personal lives.  It undermines the very fiber of combat readiness, health, safety discipline, reliability, judgment and loyalty.  It also destroys families.  We are here to work hard to help prevent all of that.  And, with the dedication, service, and devotion of people like you, your family, and your spouse, we can make alcohol-related misconduct a thing of the past.”

There is zero tolerance for this behavior, and the message to all Sailors is clear:” DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!”