Fort Irwin hosted presentations from MADD and motivational speaker Thomas R. Williams during April to highlight individual choices about drinking
The month of April was Alcohol Awareness month – an observance started in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. According to the NCADD, the April campaign is an effort to increase public awareness and understanding aimed at reducing the stigma associated with alcoholism that may prevent individuals and families from seeking help.
Information at the NCADD Web site points out that more than 18 million individuals or 8.5 percent of Americans suffer from alcohol-use disorders.
The NCADD also states that 25 percent of children in the United States have been exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.
According to the NCADD, the economic cost of alcoholism and alcohol abuse has recently been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be $223.5 billion ($746 per person) or about $1.90 per drink. Researchers found the costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72 percent), health care expenses caused by excessive drinking (11 percent), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9 percent), and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6 percent).
An organization that actively campaigns about the dangers of driving while intoxicated is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Representatives from MADD spoke to Soldiers on this installation during two presentations, April 11. The presenters had something in common with the founder of MADD – they had loved ones killed by drunk drivers. This disheartening reality made the presenters’ stories very poignant and makes their passion for the campaign strong. They told Soldiers, “We’re like bulldogs” and “We want these people put away for life.” – in reference to seeking justice in cases against drunk drivers.
Following the MADD presentation, Thomas R. Williams provided a motivational brief to the audience. He played professional football for five years, but retired in August 2012 after a career-ending injury.
The 28-year-old Williams spoke about challenges he faced when playing professionally and explained about one occasion when he turned to alcohol after being cut from the New England Patriots. He questioned himself, “Why did it have to happen to me? I’m the one who put in the time. I’m the one who sacrificed. I’m the one who was committed, dedicated. I did my prayers. It didn’t work out – why?” He said he went out and bought a “bottle of forget,” or Crown Royal liquor, and proceeded to finish the bottle in his home.
“I’ll never forget the feeling when that last drop left the bottle and I didn’t have enough to get to where I was trying to go – which was to forget completely about everything,” Williams said. “And God put in my heart: ‘What are you running from? You’re problems are still going to be there. Whatever you’re trying to escape, whatever you’re trying to leave – they’re still going to be here.’”
Williams said that from that point forward he understood that life is meant to be lived. He realized that alcohol was nothing but depression and that it takes away from life.
“What you’re fighting for, alcohol will take it away,” Williams told the Soldiers. “And I’m not trying to tell anybody how to live their life, I’m just sharing with you how I decided to live mine. I’m here today to tell you that you’re that good. You don’t have to add anything to it.”