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Why The Military Should Lower The Drinking Age For Enlisted

Updated on April 21, 2013

If You Serve, You Should Be Served

I understand that the idea of lowering the legal age for consumption of alcohol is a bit touchy for some, but there are a multitude of reasons why 18 year old men and women who serve our military should be able to drink alcohol, so long as it's done responsibly. Continue reading for arguments for lowering the age standard, and feel free to comment below if you disagree.

The Most Obvious Argument

"If you're old enough to die for your country, you're old enough for a beer." I've heard it time and time again, and it's kind of played out, but still makes sense. If you're old enough to travel to a foreign country to fight for our civilians, you should be able to sit down and have a drink. I've known people who have died in Iraq who were under the age of 21. People who have given the ultimate sacrifice. No, obviously, they weren't thinking about getting hammered at the time, but I would love to have those people back, sit down, and have a drink with them. It doesn't seem like it's too much to ask for.

I'm well over the drinking age as it stands, so this argument is not for me. But as we have friends and family return from Afghanistan and Iraq, I think it's only fair that we celebrate their safe arrival with a beer, without the fear of them being kicked out of the service. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like the drinking age should be lowered for everybody. I think this should specifically be a perk of joining the military. The way things are, if you are caught drinking under age (as I witnessed a lot of in Tech School) you get the book thrown at you. What do you do when you're celebrating at home? You have a drink with your best friends, relax, and enjoy your friendship and camaraderie. My opinion is that you should be able to do the same with the people who you'd die for, and who will die for you.

If You're Stationed Overseas, You Can Drink!

How much sense does this make? You're an 18 year old kid, fresh out of high school, and your first duty station is in Germany, where the legal drinking age is 18. So for 2 years, you can drink without fear of any repercussions (unless you do something insanely stupid), then you get orders to be stationed back in the states. Or you just go home to be with family. Now, all of a sudden, you're not responsible enough to drink? That makes no sense at all. So the Airmen, Sailors, Marines, and Soldiers who drew the lucky straw to be sent overseas are somehow magically mature, but the people who are back home, supporting our wars in other ways, cannot. It needs to be clear, across the board, that all servicemen and women can share a drink. This back and forth doesn't make any sense.

Last year, police issued several underage drinking summons after they responded to a farewell party for a soldier who was deployed to Afghanistan. A 21-year-old and a 22-year-old were cited under the town's social host ordinance.

From Afghanistan, the soldier stated: “If I'm getting shipped off to Afghanistan to fulfill my duty as a soldier, willing to lay my life for my friends and other soldiers around me (someone else's daughter, son, dad, cousin), then I think I deserve a drink.”

Other Things 18 Year Old People Can Do

  • When you turn 18, you're legally allowed to gamble (in most states)
  • own a home
  • own a business
  • old enough to vote
  • get married
  • join the military
  • buy tobacco
  • get a tattoo
  • legally change your name
  • Adopt a child
  • Get Divorced
  • Get a Loan
  • Sue
  • Be sued
  • Carry a Weapon

That's just to name a few. I understand that drinking can affect other people, but we need to trust our 18 year old adults. Looking at it another way, an 18 year who wants to drink, WILL DRINK. It's not hard to get alcohol. And, in the same breathe, those 18 year old people who will drive drunk, will drive drunk regardless of their age. If you're willing to break the law (drinking underage) then you're willing to break it in other areas as well (driving drunk.)

It's funny that we can trust them with a loaded weapon, expect them to use it, but not trust them with a can of beer.

What Can Be Done?

I encourage everyone who feels the same way that I do to write your congressman. It would be rather difficult, since the DoD states "The minimum drinking age on a DoD installation located in a State (including the District of Columbia) shall be consistent with the age established by the law of that State as the State minimum drinking age. Minimum drinking age means the minimum age established for persons who may purchase, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages."

With that wording, it would be hard to get an exception to the rule without lowering the drinking age for everybody in the state. However, it can be done. In Rhode Island, March 2013, a bill was proposed:

A bill is expected to be heard at the State House Wednesday that would make it legal for military service members between the ages of 18 and 21 to drink alcohol in Rhode Island.

The legislation (H 5603), introduced by Rep. Thomas Winfield (D-Glocester, Smithfield) and co-sponsored by Rep. Raymond Gallison (D-Bristol, Portsmouth) would apply to active military members with a valid military identification.

So, Yes. It can be done, and in some states it's being worked on. Including Texas. One thing I would like to state, though, is that this is my opinion, and I understand others may feel strongly the opposite way. As stated before, I'd love to hear your opinion in the comments below. If you choose to do so, I would like to hear your backing as well. I've heard enough that "The state law is 21, it should be 21." Which makes sense, but I want to know why you feel like 21 is a magical age in which you're mature enough to drink? Again, I'd love to hear from you, and feel free to let your opinion be heard.

What's Your Opinion on The Military Lowering The Legal Drinking Age for Members?

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