Marines, Sailors warned against alcohol use

20 Jul 2004 | Lance Cpl. J.C. Guibord

Service members deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom are in a 24-hour duty status. Whether it is a Saturday night or Tuesday afternoon, alcohol consumption in Iraq is handled as if the offender is drunk on the job.

With the frequency of direct and indirect fire attacks on coalition forces based in Iraq, a Marine’s sobriety might be the deciding factor in making decisions that could save his life or the life of a fellow Marine.

“A drunk Marine or Sailor would be ill-equipped to respond to a situation, whether it be operating a radio or driving a humvee,” said Lt. Cmdr. John R. Benjamin, the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group medical officer.

Other possible adverse medical effects include loss of inhibitions, dehydration and risk of contamination, according to Benjamin.

A recent incident left one Sailor pondering the effects of alcohol consumption in a combat zone.

“I feel like I let the Marines whose health I am responsible for down,” said a corpsman with I MHG who was recently reprimanded for alcohol use.

For some service members deployed to Iraq, the inability to drink casually, like they would in the United States, is a difficult transition, but active duty military need to comply and abstain, said Sgt. Maj. Carlos R. Rios, the I MHG sergeant major.