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AADD: giving gift of safety

When deciding to consume alcohol, an individual should have a plan to arrive home safely.

When deciding to consume alcohol, an individual should have a plan to arrive home safely. The Shaw Airmen Against Drunk Driving offer free, anonymous rides to Team Shaw Airmen, Soldiers and family members to help prevent drunken driving. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The holiday season can be a time of celebrating with family and friends, embracing traditions and enjoying feasts. For some, this can also include consuming alcohol.

According to the popular Christmas jingle, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” The Shaw Airmen Against Drunk Driving want to make sure Weasels arrive there safely.

“If you want to go and have a couple of drinks at dinner or to a friend’s house for a party, you can call AADD,” said Staff Sgt. Allison Lacey, 20th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy journeyman and AADD public relations manager. “It’s completely anonymous, we don’t ask names, we don’t give names.”

Volunteers with AADD include dispatchers and drivers who are on call between 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Monday. Once an active-duty service member or family member calls the program’s number, a dispatcher contacts a driver and provides them with the location as well as a brief description of the individual. The driver then picks up the individual and brings them home safely.

Lacey said the end of the year holiday season is the program’s busiest time due to increased holiday parties and unit celebrations.

“It might be that they’re not feeling the effects of the alcohol that much,” said Senior Airman Jose Velazquez, 20th MDOS mental health technician and AADD president. “Even though they feel fine, that alcohol is still in their system. With alcohol, sometimes thought processes aren’t as clear as if a person was sober — that’s another reason why sometimes people decide to get in their car and drive.”

Velazquez said he urges everyone to always have a plan A and a plan B to get home when planning to consume alcohol.

Sometimes these plans can fall through, such as a designated driver consuming alcohol or leaving a location early.

“Any number of things can happen, but the one thing that will always be reliable is AADD,” said Lacey. “You call us, we’ll answer, and someone will come and get you.”

During 2016, the AADD program helped approximately 124 individuals and accumulated more than 12,000 volunteer hours, ensuring the safety of Team Shaw members and those they share the road with.

The AADD drivers are available at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, as well as the neighboring communities of Sumter, S.C., and Dalzell, S.C. To volunteer as a driver or dispatcher, sign up at the AADD SharePoint. For a sober ride home, call 803-983-9722 or 803-983-9723.