Here's a topic I don't know much about, but that was brought to mind by General Wesley Clark's recent recent comments about President Bush's history with alcoholism.

"I'm not running to bash George Bush. A lot of Americans really love him," said Clark.

"They love what he represents, a man who's overcome adversity in his life from alcoholism and pulled his marriage back together and moved forward," added Clark.

I think that's true, and the statement reminded me of a problem I read about a while ago: alcohol abuse in the military. As a general, Mr. Clark may have seen first-hand the effects that alcohol abuse can have.
Twenty-one percent of service members admit to drinking heavily -- a statistic the military hasn’t managed to lower in 20 years -- but service officials are determined to change that.

“If you look at heavy use of alcohol, drinking a lot in a short span of time, we tend to have a higher prevalence than the civilian community,” said Lt. Col. Wayne Talcott, an Air Force psychologist. Young military people between 18 and 25 also tend to do more heavy drinking than their civilian peers, he noted.

Speaking only in terms of medical care and lost time at work, alcohol abuse costs DoD more than $600 million each year, said Navy Capt. Robert Murphy, a medical corps officer. DoD spends another $132 million a year to care for babies with fetal alcohol syndrome -- sometimes-serious health problems related to their mothers’ heavy drinking. ...

Recent civilian studies have turned up some frightening statistics, Murphy said. Thirty-one percent of all occupational injuries are alcohol-related, as are 23 percent of suicides and 32 percent of homicides.

I hope the abuse-prevention programs the article mentions have some positive effect.



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