SASEBO, Japan – April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a nationwide campaign intended to raise awareness of the health and social problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption and to reduce the stigma that often prevents individuals and families from seeking help.
USS Denver (LPD-9) Sailors participated in the Navy-Wide Command Alcohol-Free Weekend from April 5th through the 7th to promote safe and healthy alternatives to over-indulging in alcohol. Captain Kevin Lenox, DENVER’s Commanding Officer, challenged the crew to go alcohol free for one weekend. “This small sacrifice by most of us could help a few shipmates identify that they may have a problem and hopefully seek help from the DAPA, Chaplain, or Medical Officer.”
“I went to the outdoor events that were held on base and I had a great time there,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Desmond Ricard. “I also attended on base church services on Sunday. I didn’t do anything that even required alcohol and it felt pretty good.”
Overall, 250 sailors comprising more than 70 percent of the crew went alcohol free for the weekend. This didn’t mean less liberty; instead, Sailors found different activities to participate in that did not include alcohol.
“I went to try out for the traveling softball team,” said Seaman Tyler Rios. “Softball is something I really like to do anyway, so it was easy for me to make that substitution. Whenever you find an activity you really like you can just roll with it.”
Denver Sailors realize that alcohol is not necessary to have a good time, and that the choices they make can affect their career.
“I see some of the things that alcohol does to people and it’s not worth it.” said Ship Serviceman Seaman Wesley Smith. “It can ruin your career and hurt the people who care about you.”
“Sailors need to realize that alcohol isn’t the only way to have fun,” said Ricard. “We as senior leadership and as shipmates can do more to prevent all of the incidents that happen. I’m not saying don’t drink, what we want to see is you do it responsibly. Omitting alcohol might be a long shot, but if you can find other things to do then you are just that much further away from being part of the problem, you’re part of the solution now.”
The Navy-wide Command Alcohol-Free Weekend is used to promote alternatives to drinking and curb destructive behaviors that deal with alcohol, and in doing so develop young Sailors into future leaders.
Denver is part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and conducts operations in the 7th fleet area of responsibility.