Interviewer: We’ll start with drug cases and alcohol cases in the military. Which happens more frequently, alcohol-related or drug-related offenses?
Alcohol Use Is More Predominantly Linked to Misconduct in the Military
Chris Cazares: Alcohol is usually the precursor to a number of these MJ Actions. Whether it ends up in sexual assault, drug use, theft or some other misconduct, alcohol, incidents and young people in the military all seem to go together.
Incidents of Misconduct in the Military Have Been Subject to Heightened Publicity Recently
Recently, there’s been a huge crackdown on all alcohol and sexual assault in the military. It has caught the Congressional eyes and the eyes of the President. The science behind alcohol use and what it does to young people, to old people and to crime, has become pretty apparent. So, yes, I would say alcohol is the main factor in episodes of misconduct in the military.
Military Members Who Are 18 Years of Age Are Prohibited from Alcohol Consumption for Three Years
Interviewer: I know that to be in the military you have to be 18, and I’m sure there are a large number of people in the military who are 18, but they have three whole years in which they’re not supposed to drink alcohol. Is it very prevalent that people are caught underage drinking in the military?
Alcohol Consumption on Its Own Is Considered a Lesser Offense but the Military Believes That Alcohol Consumption by Its Younger Members Is the Precursor to Greater Offenses
Chris Cazares: Yes. It’s prevalent. Those are the lesser-level cases that do not normally end in court-martial. It’s some kind of modified punishment, such as a letter of reprimand, an Article 15, the Captain’s Mast. But what ends up happening usually is that it’s a precursor to some greater offense.
In a scenario where you first have a younger member of the military, plus alcohol, with the addition of members of the opposite sex, peers or the wrong situation, such as a fight all lead to misconduct. Alcohol is one part of the equation normally.
What Episodes of Misconduct Usually Occur in Conjunction with Alcohol Consumption?
Interviewer: What are the major types of misconduct? You said sexual misconduct. What else typically occurs?
In Addition to Sexual Misconduct, Alcohol Consumption Can Lead to Incidents of Theft and Fighting among Younger Military Members
Chris Cazares: In addition to sexual misconduct, you will also see fighting and theft. Any situations that you would consider young people to be involved with, such as juvenile crimes that you would see in college, you will also see in the military. Just because you put on a uniform, doesn’t mean you outgrow your propensity for trouble.
Obviously, the learning curve is much steeper and the percentages are much lower, but, at the end of the day, these military members are still just young people. They want to have a good time. Unfortunately, alcohol puts young people in situations where getting into trouble seem a likely occurrence.
Do These Incidents of Misconduct Tend to Occur Directly after Boot Camp?
Interviewer: When does this tend to happen? Is it right after boot camp or while it is ongoing or does it happen sometimes after they’ve had a year or two in the service?
Chris Cazares: Yes. Statistically, it’s going to be any time from boot camp graduation through their technical training school, to their first duty station. These are all times where you’re going to see alcohol-related offenses involving younger military members. It is a gateway type of offense.
What I mean by that is young people will, for instance, have a party after graduation and they’re drinking underage and somebody may introduce drugs into the situation. Perhaps somebody has sex and one person doesn’t remember it, and that incident becomes a sexual assault incident.
From that time, post-boot camp, until they get a little bit older and settle down, it’s a more volatile situation.