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Pentagon Targets Alcohol Consumption in Effort to Reduce Sexual Assault in the Military

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The Defense Department (DOD) will target alcohol consumption as part of its campaign to reduce sexual assault in the military, Stars and Stripes reports. There were more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault by service members last year—a 50 percent jump from the previous year.

More than two-thirds of the reports involved alcohol use by either the victim, the assailant, or both. “[The alcohol policies] will be revised, where necessary, to address risks that alcohol poses to others, including the risk that alcohol is used as a weapon against victims in a predatory way,” said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Major General Jeffrey Snow, the Director of DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), said the department will encourage responsible sales practices and train bartenders and other alcohol providers in communities around military installations.

Nate Galbreath, a senior adviser to SAPRO, told the newspaper several states, including California, have programs that the DOD could use as a model. California’s Responsible Beverage Service program is designed to prevent bar and restaurant patrons from getting dangerously drunk. Bar and restaurant workers are told to provide a food menu to someone who orders a drink, and to encourage them to eat something to slow the absorption of alcohol into the system. “You [also] look at times associated with when you sell things. Do you really need to sell someone five-fifths of bourbon at 2:00 in the morning? Probably not,” he said.

Last October, the Marines announced Marine Corps Exchange stores around the world would impose new limits on alcohol sales in an effort to limit irresponsible drinking. Earlier last year, the Navy announced it would be cutting back the sale hours for alcohol at base stores, in an effort to reduce sexual assaults. The Navy also made changes to its policy about alcohol placement in stores.

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