When it comes to alcohol marketing, I’m usually concerned with how industry ads and sponsorship attract underage drinkers. More often than not, substance use disorders have roots planted firmly in the adolescent years. When underage drinking is prevented, addiction is prevented.
Recently though, these photos posted on social media grabbed hold of my attention. Both images are shared with permission of Grant Trent.Buy beer, support the troops?
It’s not my role to criticize an adult’s decision to drink. I see that as a separate, primarily personal, matter. Marketing is different. It’s a public issue and the use of positive, proud military images to promote beer sales is a problem. These images are at odds with the facts.How does alcohol use look for the troops?
FACT: young men in the military are far more likely to be heavy and regular drinkers (32.2%), as compared to their civilian peers (17.8%).
FACT: exposure to combat, for young adult troops, is linked to a significantly greater risk for binge drinking than that of older service members
FACT: serious alcohol related consequences- missing a week or more of duty because of a drinking-related illness, being arrested for driving while impaired, dependence symptoms—occurred most often among military personnel in the lowest pay grades. (i.e., E1 to E3) according to researchers.
Earlier this month I was in Georgia and went by Fort Stewart, the army base where my father was stationed briefly after his tours in Vietnam. The young soldiers working at the gate carried out their work with seriousness and precision. Looking closely, the man I spoke with might well have been a teenager. We ask a lot from our military members. It’s only right that Americans are concerned with how best to support them, a topic I won’t address here because there are others with more expertise. Indeed, the true experts are the soldiers and families themselves.
But it’s cynical to use our service members as marketing tools. Especially to sell an addictive product which, too often, becomes just one more battle to fight.