You don’t have to drink to have fun

  • Published
  • By Col. Paul H. Guemmer
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Commander
The first Airman Summit initiative I'm going to tackle is the request to lower the drinking age to 18 on base. A frequently used argument is typically, "If I'm old enough to die for my country, I'm old enough to drink." That logic has been used many times and my response is always the same, it doesn't matter how I feel about it ... it's the law.

As your commander, I am charged with ensuring the safety and security of everyone on Fairchild. I take that responsibility very seriously. Two of my vectors focus on taking care of yourself and taking care of each other. Each member of Team Fairchild plays an important role in our successful accomplishment of the mission here and our success. The Air Force invests a great deal of time and money in you and your future and I have to ensure a return on that investment.

Having said that, the most important reason for not lowering the drinking age is that we're bound to follow and enforce federal and state law:

Congress passed the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act on July 17, 1984 requiring all states to enforce the age of 21 as a minimum age for purchasing and publicly possessing alcoholic beverages.
Federal law (United States Code, Title 10, Section 2683) requires military installation commanders to adopt the same drinking age as the state the military base is located in.

DoD Instruction 1015.10 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."

Since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began recording alcohol-related statistics in 1982, the number of persons under age 21 killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes decreased 73 percent from the record high of 5,215 in 1982 to a record low of 1,398 in 2009. Clearly, what we're doing is working! Additionally, more 18 year olds died in low blood alcohol content (between .01 and .09 BAC) crashes than any other age--so the "it's just one beer" argument doesn't fly either.

Let's face it folks numbers don't lie. The drinking age isn't going to change anytime soon so instead of focusing on what we can't do let's focus on what we can do. Fairchild has so many morale and welfare options available, whether you enjoy going out or staying in. Take the time to visit outdoor recreation and see what's new. From trips all over Washington and Idaho to renting recreational gear, they have everything you need. Information, tickets and tours can also help steer you towards events that might interest you. All of their information can be found at, in the Link or in the Fairchild Flyer. I encourage you to get out, explore and see all that Fairchild and the surrounding communities have to offer because honestly, you don't have to drink to have fun.

Editor's Note: This is part of an ongoing series where Col. Paul Guemmer, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, addresses concerns from the base populace. The issues addressed were gathered from the Airman's Summit in 2009 and Family Summit in 2010. Visit the official Fairchild Facebook page discussion tab to add your input: