An ounce of prevention for a happy holiday season

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Shirley and Jon Fishman
  • 95th Force Support Squadron and 95th Medical Group
Throughout the year, many of us find ourselves away from family and loved ones. This has become a way of life in all branches of the military.  But during the holiday season, things can be especially tough, and oftentimes we find ways to cope with the loneliness. It could be hanging out with friends or newly found acquaintances so that we aren't alone during what should be a joyous season.

However, there are two things we have to watch out for -- misplaced trusts and over indulgence. Lapses in judgment as they pertain to our personal safety and well being can lead to situations that present insurmountable challenges. For instance, here's a scenario where these two things, combined, placed an Airman at risk.

One holiday season, Staff Sgt. Wishingwell placed her trust in someone she thought to be a friend. You know the type; he was like a big brother to her. Well, one evening, she and her friends, including her "big brother," had a party where they all indulged in alcohol and tried to do the right thing by not drinking and driving.

We'll break from the scenario here to say it is important to remember that alcohol is legal for those 21 and over; however it is a drug and like any other, it can affect your thought processes. Irresponsible and excessive drinking can lead to personal, professional and legal problems, not to mention the long-term health consequences.

As the story unfolds ... six people decided to stay over, four of whom found a place on the floor to crash, or so Sergeant Wishingwell thought. In the early hours of the morning, her "big brother" sexually assaulted her.

Break. Now while the victim is never at fault, this could have been prevented had everyone simply limited their alcohol intake and thought through the evening's events beforehand. No one is immune to the effects of alcohol. No one can predict with certainty how an individual will act when intoxicated, or whether or not he or she will regret his or her actions once sober.

In the end, Sergeant Wishingwell made a difficult but brave decision to report it to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. She endured the process of the investigation to see her assailant face trial and conviction. She even testified in hopes of preventing this from happening someone else. She now tells her story with the message that no one asks to be a victim and that traumatic events can be overcome by contacting the appropriate helping agencies.

Here are a few facts about alcohol and its effects:

- A standard drink is one 12 ounce beer, one 5 ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. 
- After one drink, decision-making processes start to become impaired and people begin to lose their inhibitions.
- After two drinks, reasoning and memory become affected.
- Drinking in excess of four to five drinks, people begin to experience greatly reduced judgment and self-control.

If you are afraid your behavior will end up in your arrest, loses of money, professional or personal embarrassment or even online, then think twice before you do it. Don't place yourself or others in situations that are compromising, harmful or deadly by drinking in excess, failing to plan or taking safety precautions. Remember, drinking responsibly is much easier than serving time for sexual assault or other alcohol related crimes.

If the scenario above sounds like someone you know or if that someone is you and you need help, please call the SARC, Kimberly Shirley at 277-7272 or at 661-209-0115.

If you have any questions about alcohol and behavioral health, please contact the Edwards AFB, Substance Prevention Specialist, Jon Fishman at 275-3395 or e-mail him at

 For information about things to do this month, click here.