Should the Drinking Age for Military Members Be Lowered?

In this day and age of a resurgent and aggressive Russia, an out of control radical Isis, and military budget moves and cuts, you don’t hear much about the little things that are making the news in the military. It is an uncertain time to be a member of the military service for sure and that is why the little things, although they don’t get the as much attention as they deserve, still matter to the soldiers, sailors and airmen that proudly serve our great country so well. That is why I support lowering the military drinking age to 18 for those who serve.

TroopsDrinking AgeThis is a subject that has been long debated and discussed, but has never been close to actually taking effect. One of the problems is that the members of the Senate and Congress that have never served in the military are not always sympathetic to the needs and the problems that military members face; a lot of the legislation that is passed for the military has more to do with balanced budgets than the quality of life for armed forces members. Many legislators also fear that since being a military member is a high stress job, it may lead to more incidents of irresponsibility and alcoholism within the ranks. I disagree with all of this and promote giving these service members who put their lives on the line daily for their country a few perks.

The truth of the matter is that most service members that are in war zones are able to get access to alcoholic beverages despite their age. During these campaigns, the military has managed to function just fine and not miss a beat.

The latest person to try and get this legislation passed for lowering the military drinking age is Senator Ron Young of Maryland. He says he is not much of a drinker himself, but he does believe in the old adage that if someone is willing to die in their country’s service, they should be allowed to have a drink if they want.

Senator Young’s proposed state law is a hybrid of sorts from what has been proposed in the past. He is not advocating that military members should have all the drinking privileges of a 21 year old citizen, but rather something that is a modification of that. He suggested the legislation only permit military members under 21 years of age to be able to consume alcoholic beverages when they are at a bar or a restaurant; there is no provision in the legislation allowing a military service member under 21 to purchase alcohol to go.

Why do I believe Senator Young is on the right track? If you look at the ages of the soldiers, sailors and airmen that have died in our most recent conflicts, you will see that many were under the age of 21. It’s a shame that these brave young men and women did not get to enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures before they paid the ultimate sacrifice. It is definitely time to take a look at making little privileges like this for our armed forces members a reality.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Craig Smith

Craig has been writing for several years but just recently made freelance writing a full time profession after leaving behind 26 years working in the swimming pool construction industry. He served four years in the US Air Force as an Imagery Interpreter Specialist in Okinawa, Japan and at SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. As a staunch supporter of law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firemen, search and rescue personnel and those who serve in the military, Craig is proud to contribute to the US Patriot blog on their behalf.
Craig Smith

26 thoughts on “Should the Drinking Age for Military Members Be Lowered?

  1. Being a soldier at 19-20 range is tough socially, if anything is going on there has to be a plan if im not going to be allowed in. I dont drink but it doesnt matter to the bar they dont want the risk im all for this being pushed forward so finally i can enjoy my time here with the guys and not be the under 21 let down

  2. I agree with Senator Young and Mr. Smith. Active duty 18-20 year olds should be given the privilege to have a drink at a bar or restaurant. They volunteer to serve our country, then this is the least we can do for them in return.

  3. when I first entered service the drinking age was 18 and although there were some problems (mainly fights, some abuse) overall I think it was good for morale and it also kept the members on base where they could be taken care of if they drink too much and was also much safer than venturing off base.

  4. They should absolutely lower the legal age for alcohol consumption for those enlisted in the military to 18. Funny how it seems to be perfectly fine to smoke weed at any age, but having a beer for those responsible enough to serve their country seems to be somehow over the line. What a country. Besides, speaking from experience, you don’t have any more sense at 21 than you had at 18. So what’s the diff??

  5. Drinking should be legal for active duty service personnel regardless of where stationed and despite local culture.

    1. Robert – not for nothing, but, in my opinion, that kind of attitude is exactly why we are hated by many people and why our kids are dying in far-off lands. Being American does not mean you can come into someone’s country, their HOME, uninvited, and trample all over their culture and beliefs.
      Having said that, I also support the notion of lowering the drinking age. But I hardly think it’s a topic worthy of either writing an article on, or discussing said article.
      To the author, respectfully – I think your time would have been better spent lobbying to keep our young men and women home, where they belong, ALIVE, rather than discussing whether or not they deserve a brewski before they die.

  6. Yes it should be lowered. Anyone that age willing to lay their life on the line for this country should be allowed to have a drink.

  7. Raise the age to join to 20?
    Maybe only lower it on Base? Off Post leads to drinking & driving trying to get back to barracks. Offer a DD Shuttle on post.
    I agree with Ken but more to think about here…

  8. I enlisted in the Air Force in June 1968 and served until Nov 1998. When I enlisted an 18-year old could drink beer on base…I was stationed in TX, MS, MI, and Thailand before I turned 21 eight months after returning to the US. The beer was 3.2 beer…in Thailand I could purchase spirits while 19 and 20. Several states changed their laws about drinking, changing it to 21 for each and the military bases would not violate the state laws. Twenty-one is not that long of a wait and I believe it should stay as is. If it is lowered on military installations, nothing prohibits folks from leaving the installation while intoxicated…or carrying beer out the gate. The military folks could get in considerable trouble (civil or military) off base, or worse be involved in a fatal accident. People are allowed to vote at 18 also, but that is not justification for regressing with the law.

  9. when I first came back in the 70’s you could go to the enlisted club and drink as much as you wanted, I was 19 at that time and never got into any trouble because my buddies looked out for one another.
    I say if your old enough to fight and die for your country YES!

  10. My opinion;I believe that if a man or woman is old enough to serve , fight and die to preserve the rights of the American people , then I do believe that they should be able to drink alcohol.When I was younger ,the leagal age was 18 ,so when it changed back to 21 , I was already drinking leagally for a couple years . Did I make mistakes , sure ,but it was my right.

  11. They tried that back in the 70s. The 18 year olds got to drink before 21 but they were not mature enough to handle it, and they legislature repealed that law. That has already been tried, All it would get them a criminal background before they were really old enough to handle it. Or at least that is my take on it.

    1. So some of you are saying that a man is mature enough to carry a machine gun and kill people who threaten your freedom, carry and discharge grenades that could level a small building, operate equipment worth millions of dollars, etc. etc. but he is not responsible enough to drink a beer????

  12. I agree with Mr. Young. If you are old enough to die for your country,you are old enough to drink.

    Vietnam vet

  13. Yes, and no. If you can ensure that only those with military ID’s are allowed then by all means yes. I was buying in the BX and commissary when I was 19 on base in the late 1980’s and no one ever said anything. My concern would be that civilians could not tell the difference between a real and fake military ID and kids who weren’t in the military would create fake IDs to try and buy underage, ultimately undermining the right given to our young troops.

  14. In the early 1970,s for buying beer the age were 18teen, Liquor were 21 years of age. I didn’t drink liquor anyway, but I could buy beer on Base. But if this law is passed you still need a designated driver, unless you live on base and can walk home.

    1. I digress, in California, while station at Camp Pendleton, I were on the streets of Oceanside, I basically were caught in a bar, where another Marine had to surrended his ID to cover me, I were 18 years old, in a 21 year old bar, thankfully I borrow his ID, so that I could not be written up, back then they had bars on the streets which were newspaper stands where you could buy X-Rated magazines which were a front for and X-Rated bar after 1700 Hours, where the lady done the donkey, MP’s showed up and I were almost caught. It depends on whether they are heavy drinkers, are someone who only drinks lightly.

  15. If you are old enough to die for your country you are old enough to have a beer.
    18 year old people in general are too immature for this, but, I think military is far different then others (18 year olds) in the maturity they earned defending us.

  16. Many have, and will, argue ‘old enough to fight, old enough to drink’. Hard to dispute that but I will. With the awful rate of suicides in the military this past decade we see an inability to cope with stress and trauma. There were two suicides in my National Guard unit during the last 5 years I served in that unit (retired in 2014). My unit was not a combat unit. These 2 individuals had problems not directly related to service. Alcohol is a depressant and as such, makes learning to deal with life’s more stressful aspects even more difficult. So alcohol is bad for emotional development. As for having fun and blowing off steam, it’s pretty easy to do that sober. For fun, I like flying airplanes and going to a firearms range just to name two things – and both require being sober! I’ve been down that road where getting drunk with the boyz is fun – but in reality, we were always just getting drunk and acting stupid. If you go to the dance, you gotta pay the fiddler.

  17. I served in the army turned 19 in boot camp so I know what it’s like. And I know most of them drink anyway part of me says yes they deserved privilege but I’ve also seen a fellow soldier go to jail for drunk driving and killing four people, so another part of me says maybe not if I believed young soldiers were responsible enough but I don’t think that they are

  18. They are old enough to go to war and put their life on the line for our country. They can shoot weapons, that most only see in pictures or on tv, at other human beings.
    They can smoke. All at the age of 18. I think they should be able to buy AND drink at least beer and wine, just like it use to be. It’s time this was changed.

  19. No it shouldn’t be lowered. Keep it as is. Raise the smoking age to 21 also. The kids now aren’t what they should be. Stronger and tougher mentally and physically. It was probably said of my generation 21 yrs ago when I joined the Navy. But now we have sensitivity training and such. Can we slow down the pussification of America? We need strong men and women in our military. If they join at 18 let’s show them how to conduct themselves here and abroad as representatives of the United States military, BEFORE they are taught to drink like fishes. The people in charge of our military have an obligation to the USA to put the best military in the world in places for domestic or foreign conflicts. Let’s train first and drink later. Let’s have men and women in our military not children. Thank you for your time.

  20. I agree that the Military Drinking age should be 18, however, there are laws in many areas which should be honored. Get drunk in the EM club, leave Base and have an encounter with the locals and see what happens to your career. Having a couple of brews, after duty, should be the privilege of anyone serving their country, regardless of their age.

  21. Mw ghosty reaction to anyone is….. ? It not what he is taking it’s his reaction that matter .

  22. Part of drinking is responsibility, as long as you can drink responsibly, by all means, lower the military drinking age, if the young men and women that decide to drink can’t drink responsibly, let them suffer the consequences. As for all of you commenting about the pussification of America, part of stalling that is teaching that everything has consequences. Shit happens, get over it, If it happened, it happened, you can’t do anything about it but deal with the aftermath

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