Micahel A. Grinston, Sergeant Major of the Army

James C. McConville, General, United States Army, Chief of Staff

Ryan D. McCarthy, Secretary of the Army

Army Senior Leader Holiday Safety Message

The holiday season is one of the most special times of the year for our Army. American Soldiers and DA Civilians around the globe celebrate their own unique traditions. Some of you will only be able to pause for an hour or two due to operational requirements away from home. You remain at the forefront of our thoughts. Others will enjoy a well-deserved break and opportunity to take leave. After nearly a year of COVID-19 restrictions, curtailed vacations, and isolation from loved ones, we know you are eager to catch up on travel and precious time with family anf friends. However, that is no excuse for unnecessary risk.

Our Army loses an average of 11 Soldiers, annually, in off-duty mishaps between Thanksgiving and the return to work after New Year's Day. Typically, nine of those die in private motor vehicles. For perspective, the holidays are the second deadliest time of year, trailing only the summer season. Combined with the fact we have already lost 16 Soldiers to off-duty mishaps since the beginning of the fiscal year (14 private motor vehicle mishaps, one drowning, and one accidental gunshot), we all have a personal responsibility to play it safe and manage our individual risk during these next few critical weeks.

Dynamic risk management saves lives. Continuously reassessing hazards and adjusting mitigation strategies as conditions change is just as effective off duty as it is during a mission. Inclement weather, fatigue, or drinking and driving can disrupt the best of holiday plans. Pulling over for the night to rest, waiting out poor driving conditions, and securing a sober ride are excellent examples of dynamic risk management. Flexibility is essential to arriving safely and enjoying the holidays with friends and family.

Sustained separation and distance have affected us all this year, but for some, holiday stress will be particularly difficult to manage in the evolving COVID-19 environment. Please support each other and lend a hand when needed. If you, a battle buddy, or loved one are struggling, contact your chain of command for confidential assistance or tap into the many support resources your Army has at your disposal. Your well-being matters.

The U.S. Army's Combat Readiness Center recently developed a communications campaign targeting the Army's most prevalent off-duty holiday hazards. This toolkit includes a counseling checklist, feature articles, posters, public service announcements, and leader talking points focused on personal risk factors, specifically for this holiday season. Also available are the Travel Risk Planning System, the Off Duty Safety Awareness Presentation, and Small Unit Leader Cards, all tried-and-true risk management tools. For Leaders, the holiday exodus safety campaign tools are online at https://safety.army.mil/MEDIA/Seasonal-Safety-Campaigns/Fall-Winter-Safety-2020.

Thank you for the sacrifices you and your family make on behalf of our Nation every day. It is an honor to serve alongside and celebrate this most special season with you. We wish each of you a happy, safe holiday, and look forward to seeing you in 2021.