A Boxer Sailor tries to read a document while wearing distorting goggles which simulate the effects of alcohol.
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Boxer DAPAs Increase Alcohol Awareness, Decrease Alcohol Incidents
By Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class John J. Siller

The Drug and Alcohol Program Advisors on board the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) have been working hard to ensure Sailors are staying out of trouble with drugs and alcohol.

The DAPAs’ mission is to minimize the negative effects associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and the education of the crew on these topics.

Command DAPA, NCC(SW/AW) Andre Brown and his team of three assistants have been promoting awareness and de-glamorization through training and events.

Their work has helped lower driving under the influence incidents over the past several months. The ship was averaging one DUI per week from August 2009, when the ship returned from deployment, to January 2010. Since then, Boxer has now gone more that 115 days without a DUI and more than 95 without an alcohol related incident, an achievement Brown attributes to the work of his assistants.

They have made DAPAs into a helpful asset, rather than someone you go see when you get in trouble, he said.

“We are trying to publicize all of the alcohol-free activities that are provided by MWR,” said HM1 Joshua Dominique, who serves as the training coordinator for the program.

They also wrote a command alcohol abuse instruction and are working on a command prevention plan, he said.

Dominique also acknowledged that the Navy instruction that states Sailors will be separated after their second DUI has made people more cautious about drinking and driving because now their careers are at stake.

Brown added that the Navy's “Right Spirit” campaign, which promotes abstinence from drinking, has also helped as has the “That Guy” campaign which shows the embarrassing reality of getting drunk. Brown and his team recently held and alchohol awareness fair on the ship’s pier to give information and options to Sailors interested in learning about alternatives to drinking. He is happy if even just one person is helped, he said. More events are also being planned including some with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the California Highway Patrol.

He worries however, that incidents may increase again due to the increased work load and operations tempo as the ship prepares for certifications, inspections and deployment.

“You can't force people to make the right choices, but you can offer them training, options resources and tough love,” said Brown.

Courses like Prevent and Aware are offered to junior Sailors to help educate them and ADAMS for supervisors is offered to help teach more senior Sailors how to recognize problems and what they can do to help.

“Anyone can be an advocate and help others become aware of problems,” said Dominique.

There are also courses for those Sailors who wish to become DAPAs including ADAMS for facilitators, the DAPA course and the Prevention Specialist course.

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