Neller is starting the conversation with Marines about alcohol abuse and how it can lead to major loss with negative consequences both professionally and personally.
In an initiative called “Protect What You’ve Earned”, Neller said, “I’m not telling Marines or sailors not to drink.” “They’re grown men and women. I trust them. I’m just suggesting that they talk about this.”
He admitted that commanders wagging their fingers at them is not the most productive way to get Marines to consider the consequences of alcohol abuse. Rather, Neller wants Marines to think about what they stand to lose.
Neller points out the downside of having fun in a bar, perhaps what some would call the side effects of drinking; “We know statistically, when you look at all the things that happen to Marines — whether it’s accidents, sexual assault, suicide, illegal drug use, domestic abuse — that alcohol is a significant player in a lot of those,” Neller said. “My hypothesis is: If I can get Marines to be more responsible with alcohol then these other things will go down”.
The issue, he says, is not unique to the Marines; “I think society has a problem with alcohol because I don’t think they respect the drug,” Neller said. “It’s a habit, like anything else.”
Neller wants Marines to know that he really understands. His motivation in creating the ‘conversation’ was inspired by the drunk driving death of Marine 1st Lt. Matthew Davis, back in November 2014. He goes on, “You’ve worked really hard; you’ve accomplished a lot; you’re a United States Marine; your family is proud of you; you’ve done great stuff; you’re going to do great things – do you really want to put that at risk just over a beer?” Neller said.
“I’m not preaching,” he said. “I’m just having a conversation like I would with anybody that I care about. That’s all.”
The conversation is one of consciousness and caring. You can never have enough of either.
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