Upfront, I know it’s always an uphill battle as with anything in the military. Hell, you don’t signup because it’s easy. You sign up for the challenge. There are some challenges that I have to question though and figure out who is intentionally setting me and my family up for failure. I am talking about the new military, the one that has zero issue selling me tobacco, fast food, alcohol, and then to convince me I should not use these harmful products by spending millions of man hours and money in advertising and education.
I realize I am my own man and responsible enough to make my own decisions when it comes to tobacco use, but the military is dead set on asking me to quit. Every doctor’s appointment, every health and fitness checkup they ask me. They create regulations that ban people from being within 50ft from an entrance on installation, and they set goals of being smoke free. Each year they print millions of newsletters, pamphlets, emails, commercials, and countless other avenues to convince people from smoking, chewing, smoking cigars…etc. I don’t blame them a bit, in fact I think it’s admirable that the military truly cares about my health and wellness. Most employers would never care to even ask about my personal vices.
The problem is that they allow the sales of tobacco in the BX/PX, Shopette, and Commissary. Now I get that it’s there for retirees and military dependents as well, but doesn’t this send the wrong message? I feel as though the DoD is half way in on this and really doesn’t want to commit. That’s fine I suppose, but why waste millions of dollars each year trying to convince me to be tobacco-free if you really don’t mean it? I know some of you are probably thinking I am the worst person in the world for even highlighting this, but it needs to be. Something has to give. Either let me smoke and put that money into something else, or get rid of the tobacco!
Another special one and very close to most everyone’s heart. We all rush the Class Six to get our favorite Vodka, Margarita mix, or that special seasonal brew from Sam Adams. I personally enjoy a great drink among friends (not more than 2-3 to prevent being labeled as an alcoholic though). It’s absolutely legal and a big past time for Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines. The DoD has programs like ADAPT to help people that have gotten into “trouble” with alcohol. They label light drinkers as alcoholics to scare them away from the thought of drinking. The military absolutely spends millions of dollars convincing people that alcohol is risky, and be a good wingman, battle buddy, or whatever your service calls it. The fact is the DoD would love for it’s people to be alcohol-free.
I want to believe what I just wrote, but I find it almost impossible since the DoD gladly allows super sales of alcohol at the Shopettes, bowling alleys, clubs, and even events such as airshows. I suppose I am just not as sold as I would like to be on the commitment. I feel like perhaps the military wants me to indulge in alcohol, but not tell anyone about it. At my yearly physical this year I actually answered truthfully about my alcohol consumption. I actually answered that I have had 6 beers in one sitting. Within a couple hours I was called for an immediate appointment with a nurse. I spent 30 minutes being educated about the effects of alcohol and was told I should be thankful that I am not required to go to ADAPT. I was blown away needless to say.
This one is the biggest of the three. Hands down the military has put serious pressure on it’s people with toughening PT tests. Today’s military is crunching ways to get our health bill below $50B yearly. Now we are prescreened medically for almost everything, we put serious emphasis on eating right, hell, we even hired full-time nutritionists! I applaud the DoD for helping me get healthy with awesome new gyms, Health and Wellness Centers, and a regular fitness program. I feel great that my employer would be willing to literally spend millions and millions of dollars on members between 18-38 to keep us fit and healthy. Wait, that’s the same age group that rarely gets sick in the private sector and why health coverage is the lowest in those age groups. [/TongueinCheek] Sorry, I needed to put some balance into this paragraph.
The beast of our problem is the ease the military has given us by welcoming McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway, Pizza Hut, Captain D’s, Charley’s, Baskin Robbins, Chilis, and anything else I may have missed onto our installations. Sure people could roll out the gates during lunch to go to these places, but people are now eating throughout the day at these places because of proximity. What is the military doing to it’s members and their families? This is no help at all. I want my wife and kids to have to not have to think about running through Burger King’s kitchen because it’s next to the playground my children play at. I would say that I am most pissed about this issue than any others.
What Should Be Done
In the end, the DoD is saying one thing, but doing another. It’s a disservice to the tax payers money, and to the military member. No one wants to talk about this enormous elephant in the room so I will. I get the reasons behind all of these decisions. It’s all about the budget. Why help people when we can find reasons to boot them out and not have to pay retirement benefits? Why make AFFES upset by taking away a large portion of their profits? Why care about doing the right thing all the way around when we have plenty of money to tell people what they should or should not do.
The solution is either to stop badgering people about their decisions and accept what they want to do or stop selling these things on installations. I firmly believe it’s as cut and dry as that. You can’t have your cake and eat it too when it comes to health and wellness. Perhaps I missed the grey area of this, but until we do one or the other the DoD will continue to burn dollars that could have been used for new weapon systems or even playgrounds instead of useless information that more than likely winds up in the trash can anyways.
You know, I might not know the real reasons behind this, but I can at least talk about what it looks like on the surface, from an outsider looking in. I believe I am entitled that that opinion. What say you?