From 2003 to 2004, I was assigned to the Third Marines Field Service Support Group (3d FSSG) Medical Battalion in Okinawa, Japan as the company commander for the Headquarter and Support (H&S) Company. Medical battalions are staffed by Navy medical personnel, which support Marines in war zones. The H&S company structure included a company commander, executive officer, division officers and enlisted staff. A lot of people are not familiar with the military terms so I like to use the analogy that a company commander (military officer) is comparable to the Chief Executive Officer of the organization, the executive officer (military officer) is comparable to Chief Operating Officer; the division officers (senior enlisted members) are comparable to department heads, and junior enlisted are the staff.
The company commander is responsible for the training, discipline, safety and welfare of 201 Marine and Navy senior and junior enlisted members, mostly ranging between 18 and 22 years old. There were many leadership experiences during those 18 months but the one that stands out was the impact I made on the decline in underage drinking incidents. Every Monday morning, an incident report was given about the service members who committed any violations on the island and unfortunately for the last eleven months, our company junior enlisted members managed to make the incident report every week for underage drinking. Underage drinking in the military is a huge problem, and being stationed on a 70-mile island was not exception if anything it was a catalyst.
A charge of underage drinking is very serious and, depending on the circumstances, it could easily be a career-ender. I believed it was my duty to make sure that my Marines and Sailors did not continue the cycle. My policy on underage drinking was posted in the barracks and workspaces. Each underage member was required to sign a no alcohol agreement, and to discourage excessive drinking I had everyone else sign an...
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