Decision making, on a daily basis, is the foundation of every service member’s professional and personal lives. Some decisions are small, domestic and harmless, while other decisions can directly affect the livelihood of others and have long-term consequences. It is no secret even military service members are capable of making bad decisions and these decisions can end careers and impair others.
There are various programs Marines and Sailors utilize to encourage other service members to make the best decisions not only for themselves, but for the sake of others. One of the most recent programs to be implemented is The Coalition of Sailors and Marines Against Destructive Decisions (CSMADD), which was founded in January 2016 by Petty Officer 1st Class Savannah Dukes, the lead petty officer of 1st Medical Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
“The Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) is traditionally at commands with [only] Sailors and an awesome program in the Navy today,” said Dukes. “Since we have a battalion with Marines, I wanted to include them in the program and changed the name to CSMADD.”
Marines and Sailors with 1st MLG conduct group sessions every Wednesday, where they discuss designated topics pertaining to issues both in and out of the work space. These open forum discussions are used to help service members develop ways to get over proverbial obstacles individuals face regularly.
“It’s kind of like a networking tool for Sailors and Marines,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Moore, a hospital corpsman with 1st Med. Bn., 1st MLG.
“Everybody has different ideas about everything, so you can learn so much by coming to an organization like this. It’s also exclusive for E-5 and below so people feel comfortable and give their honest opinions about things.”
The activities range from tackling serious issues to addressing what can be considered light hearted topics.
“The topics all come from members,” Moore added. “I told the members last week that the month will be on nutrition, and I asked what they wanted to talk about. I took a few of the ideas and came up with a cooking competition for this week.”
Along with the group discussions, CSMADD personnel take part in several different volunteer events to serve the community and future Marines and Sailors.
“We aim to serve the community and raise awareness for junior Sailors and Marines regarding destructive decisions,” said Dukes. “We also try to network within the community to show them that we do care about the community as Sailors and Marines.”
CSMADD targets service members between the ages of 18-25 and puts them in a position to influence their peers to make better decisions while also assessing their own ability to make sound, responsible choices. The biggest aspect that differentiates CSMADD from other military mentorship programs, however, is its focus on peer-to-peer interaction.
The fundamental, and arguably most important principle to CSMADD is as such: Individuals are more likely to listen to their peers than their boss.
“It’s not their boss standing up and telling them not to do whatever, they’re talking and helping each other so they are more open,” Dukes said. “You’re not going to come in and start admitting things to your boss. We are here to guide the discussion and that’s it.”
According to Dukes, alcohol has been the most frequent problem both Marines and Sailors face when it comes to the decision making process. Alcohol related incidents are one of the leading causes for prematurely ending a service member’s career.
“Some of the biggest things we deal with are DUIs and substance abuse in general,” Dukes said. “We can’t tell them not to drink because if they are of age they can…we promote that if you are going to drink then to drink responsibly and have a plan.”
One of the underlying things the program does for those who do participate is foster integration. Although Marines, Sailors and other branches of service all fight the same fight, it isn’t common for these entities to interact with one another on a regular basis.
“Sailors and Marines don’t always see each other, so it’s good for us to come together and discuss these things,” said Dukes. “Marines are right there, so it kind of helps us build on the relationship we already have.”
There are many resources, including CSMADD, which can help service members cope with personal problems and make sound choices. CSMADD will continue to promote the Navy, Marine Corps interaction, while helping those who struggle with decision making.