FORT RUCKER, Ala. – June is National Safety Month, and senior Army leaders are asking Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and their Family members to educate one another on risk and influence behaviors surrounding the leading causes of preventable injury and death.
National Safety Month coincides with the beginning of summer, historically the deadliest time of year for Soldiers off duty.
According to Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Stidley, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, indiscipline is a leading cause of Soldier fatalities, particularly on America’s highways.
“We’re dealing with somewhat of a paradigm when it comes to safety of the force,” Stidley said. “In uniform, in Afghanistan or Iraq, or anywhere else around the world, our Soldiers operate nearly flawlessly on-duty. But when they get home, back to the states and out of uniform, discipline goes out the window, and we lose Soldiers at a rate we cannot afford.”
The Army lost 160 Soldiers to accidents during fiscal year 2012. Off-duty accidents outnumbered those occurring on duty 4-to-1, with motorcycle and vehicle mishaps comprising nearly 80 percent of losses.
“Private motor vehicles, either two wheeled or four, remain the number-one accidental killer of our Soldiers,” Stidley said. “Indiscipline leads to reckless behavior, and reckless behavior in any form when you’re driving or riding can be deadly.”
“We are winning the fight,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler. “Accidental fatalities have fallen to peacetime levels even as we continue combat operations overseas. But, we cannot yet declare victory.”
To help leaders, Soldiers and safety professionals enhance their personal risk management during National Safety Month, the USACR/Safety Center launched a dedicated website Saturday at https://safety.army.mil/NSM, containing posters, informational videos and feature articles addressing four core topics: civilian injury prevention, ground operations, aviation operations and driving safety.
While much effort will be put into awareness this month, senior Army leaders urged all members of the Army Family to remember safety is a day-to-day commitment and responsibility.
“Across every Army unit and every installation, safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said Gen. Ray Odierno, Army chief of staff. “Leaders, Soldiers, Army civilians and Family members are encouraged to use National Safety Month to evaluate their safety measures both on and off duty. It’s imperative that leaders continue to make safety a priority and that Soldiers take seriously the actions that put themselves and others at risk.”
National Safety Month will complement the current Army Safe Summer campaign, which includes materials targeted to specific seasonal hazards, which began May 24, and runs through Sept. 3.
“Use this time to focus your Soldiers on making smart risk decisions,” Chandler said. “Doing the hard work now will serve them well in the future. Being prepared saves lives.”