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Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

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Station stand-down emphasizes safety

By Cpl. Trent Rundell | Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni | November 30, 2001

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI -- The Marine Corps is presenting information to Marines with a series of safety stand-down briefs to prepare them for the upcoming holiday season.

The Station held six separate stand-down briefs at the Sakura Theater Nov. 21, 22 and 23.  The briefs covered many topics that will help service members stay safe when it comes to force protection, substance abuse, fire prevention, cold weather injuries, toy safety and suicide prevention.

"Safety is very important," said Col. John DeWitt, Marine Aircraft Group 12 commanding officer.  "Safety comes from the individual.  Everyone must think safety and when you think safe, mishaps don't happen as often.  We have safety stand-downs to increase awareness.  The stand-downs enhance our capacity for preserving our assets."

It is all about operational readiness - if the people, airplanes and equipment are ready, then everyone can do their job to the fullest, DeWitt added.

"The briefs help tremendously," said Petty Officer 1st class Delores Davis-Stewart, MAG-12 religious program clerk.  "Everyone should be more aware of safety.  If the briefs can help one person, that's all that matters.  I think everyone will take their responsibilities more seriously and be more aware of what they do as a result of the stand-downs."

Safety awareness starts with the proper attitude, noted DeWitt.  If everyone is aware of the situation, the chances for mishaps are greatly reduced.

"These briefs help contribute to better use of safe practices on Station," said Lance Cpl. Jamey Hartley, MAG-12 Logistics embark specialist.  "Hopefully people will go home more safe-minded, and with the holidays coming up, safety and helping others are the most important things to be concerned about."

With many Marines and Sailors experiencing their first holidays away from home, an important safety issue is suicide prevention.

"During the holiday months, it is especially hard for all military members overseas," said Lt. Cmdr. Patrick McCormick, Station chaplain.  "Not only because everyone is away from their families, but also because of the change in daily routines and what people eat and drink.  All these affect the emotions of the body and can lead to a state of depression, and sometimes suicide."

Everyone, noted McCormick, needs to make sure they come back safely, so they can continue with the mission, and their lives.

"Don't hesitate to help people that are showing signs of suicide," said McCormick.  "Get involved, and never do nothing, because a mad friend is better than a dead friend."

Alcohol abuse is also a major problem during the holiday season.

"Alcohol abuse tends to be more pronounced through the holidays," said Darrell Coleman, Station Substance Abuse Counseling Center director.   "There is more time available away from work, flexible schedules and 96 hour liberties, plus depressed moods because of being far away from loved ones and family."

Everyone needs to be aware of how much they drink and to be safe when they drink.

According to Coleman, moderate drinking means setting a responsible limit and sticking to it.  Two to three drinks per occasion is considered moderate, and drinking should never be the primary focus for any event.  

Although a variety of topics were covered at the stand-down, there is one message that everyone should keep in mind - watch out for your fellow Marines and Sailors.

"When we have the safety briefs, everyone should come away with the idea of looking out for each other," said Lance Cpl. Cory Stubblebine, Combat Service Support Detachment 36 maintenance hygiene equipment operator.  "The sergeants need to watch out for the corporals, the corporals need to watch the lance corporals and the lance corporals need to watch out for the other lance corporals and privates.  All and all, when Marines and Sailors go out together, they need to watch each others' back."

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