Kingston wants to lower drinking age for military personnel

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Those in the military are old enough to fight and die, but when an 18-year-old comes home, the law doesn't consider that person a responsible adult.  He's a not old enough to drink a beer with his comrades.

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston wants to change that. He's sponsoring a bill to allow all soldiers to drink beer and wine on post. He explained his reason for sponsoring the bill.

"From time to time, I have had the honor saying goodbye to Fort Stewart soldiers as they're leaving the Tarmac and they're 19 years old. They're going to the Middle East to kill people. They're going to be driving tanks. They're going to be flying helicopters. If they're in Kings Bay, they're going to be in submarines, and yet we won't let them drink when they're on base. It doesn't make sense. It's an insult to soldiers," he said.

The bill only allows soldiers to drink on post, and in specific places: restaurants, enlisted clubs, or events. An underage soldier would not be allowed to purchase alcohol at a store and then take it back home.

Kingston's bill is already gaining support. Kevin Moore, who served in the Navy and is retired said, "I figure if they can go to war and fight for this country, by golly they out to be able to drink on post."

Vernon Williamson, who served in the Army and is retired, agreed. He said that when he served this wasn't an issue. "I don't see a problem with it. We had a beer. It was no problem," said Williamson.

But not everyone agrees. Fernando Lewis thinks 18 year olds are much too young to have alcohol and he hopes the bill doesn't pass. "They're kids, they're still kids, regardless of how you look at it or not. At my age you still look at them as children. I appreciate them for fighting for my country, but first thing is first, take care of home first," said Lewis.

The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law, but Kingston is hoping to start the dialogue on an issue. He said the issue should have been addressed a long time ago.

"Hopefully, we can convince the Chairman of the Defense Committee to have a hearing on it and let everybody come to the table and then if there are things we can do to make the bill better we're certainly open to it," Kingston said.

Kingston said that unofficially the military is supportive of this bill, but officially they don't say much on any kind of policy.

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