On Memorial Day, the nation honors those who died in America’s wars. It’s also the “official” kick off to summer and the Army’s “101 critical days of summer,” which ends Labor Day.


Army to kick off 101 critical days of summer


On Memorial Day, the nation honors those who died in America’s wars. It’s also the “official” kick off to summer and the Army’s “101 critical days of summer,” which ends Labor Day.

George Suber, a Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Army Substance Abuse Program prevention coordinator, pointed out that this year might be a little different from the past because of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are finally having an opportunity to visit family members and have barbecues during Memorial Day weekend.


“Being in that social setting, especially coming out of a pandemic, really wanting to be around people (they) want to socialize,” said Suber. “Drinking and consumption of alcohol is probably going to increase a lot more. From the standpoint of a safety issue, you want to talk about drunk driving, impairment driving, which is one of the most often committed crimes that (can) kill a lot of people over holidays like Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day — what we call fun days — but some people use it as an excuse to drink, consume more alcohol.”


Suber added it’s during those times when innocent people are injured or sometimes killed after finishing simple tasks like leaving the grocery store, and he or she has an accident after someone made the decision to drive while intoxicated. 


“During the summer months, (the) 101 critical days of summer, is usually when things do go awry (because) people go camping, people go boating, people go out to the parks, go out to cookouts — those things increase the amount of consumption of alcohol,” he said.


Suber said if there were a positive aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be the decreased number of drunk driving incidents committed by service members on the joint base. He said the numbers are down for this time of year leading into the Memorial Day holiday.


“I’m very happy, (the numbers are down),” he said. “(As) the weather starts to change, people socialize and want to get out in social settings,” he said. “A lot of times … people get in trouble this time of year.”


Suber said preplanning prior to drinking should be used. He pointed out that before pregaming, Soldiers need to ask themselves questions such as, “How will I get home? How much do I think I’m going to drink?”


 “Simple things like that will help you get home safely,” said Suber.


Suber said people should look at the people in their social circle, because they might be heavy drinkers while the other person might be a moderate drinker. He said it’s also important to look at share drivers or taking a taxi to make sure he or she isn’t driving while intoxicated.


“If you go to someone’s house, maybe stay there for the night,” Suber said. “If you drink too much alcohol, you might want to consider I don’t need to get on the road (because) I don’t need to take that risk of maybe hurting myself or hurting someone else.”


He added Soldiers need to understand that once they start drinking, it won’t take a lot to become impaired or at the legal limit of .08, which is the limit in all 50 states.


“If you look at intoxication while operating a motorized vehicle, that’s a .08 in all 50 states, but impairment starts before .08,” he said. “(What) people don’t realize is a lot of times that first drink has already impaired (them), let their guard down (and) makes them feel relaxed.


“(Some will say), ‘I don’t feel like I’m too intoxicated. I feel a little buzz, so I will drink another one because I don’t think that will really make me drunk.’ (When) in fact it does get them to that .08. I would also suggest if people want to go out and drink that they establish some type of base where they eat before they start drinking. Providing a good high protein meal won’t stop intoxication, but it will slow it down versus (drinking) on an empty stomach.”


Suber said most people start drinking on an empty stomach and after drinking, they decide to eat. In most cases that’s too late because they are not eating a balanced meal. Most are eating junk food — hamburgers, pizza, shrimp fried rice, chicken wings, things that are already based with grease, he said.


“Grease and alcohol don’t mix well, it makes it worse,” said Suber. “The best thing for people to do is to eat a full balanced meal and let that meal start to digest before you start to consume alcohol. Alcohol is absorbed through your stomach lining. If there is nothing there, it’s going to absorb a lot faster and the stages of intoxication will happen a lot faster versus slower (when there is) food in your stomach.”


As the 101 critical days of summer kick off this weekend, Suber wants the JBM-HH community to stay safe, careful and vigilant. 


“It’s important (for) all of us to get home safely … it’s imperative we all get home safely,” he said. “This weekend being the first start of summer, Memorial Day, it’s a lot of built up stress or frustration and people are going to be looking for relief. (I hope) alcohol is not that relief. Hopefully being around family and friends is relief.”


Pentagram editor Catrina Francis can be reached at catrina.s.francis2.civ@mail.mil.





By Catrina Francis

Pentagram Editor