Willing to Serve
April 2020 | Home Group

Willing to Serve

After five DUIs, he was given a choice. Lose his top secret clearance and end his Navy career—or report to AA

I grew up as a farm boy in northern Indiana and joined the Navy at age 18. My plan was to stay in the military until I was married; then I would get out. Four years later, I married. After my wife and I had one child and another in the basket, I reenlisted and spent 27 years in the Navy.

I started blackout drinking long before I entered the service. And I didn’t stop after getting married, although my new wife thought I would. She was in for a shock though. The Navy provided me with plenty of “geographic cures,” from one duty station to another. Upon arriving in Rota, Spain, I was soon in trouble with my drinking. Shortly thereafter, my tour was extended from three to four years. I knew I was in trouble.

After a couple of years there, I was sent for evaluation and diagnosed as a “possible alcohol abuser” and given information on alcoholism. This slowed my drinking down for a few months, but soon I was back at it.

In the fall of 1975, I got my fifth DUI, lost my driving privileges for a year and was given the choice of treatment stateside or three AA meetings per week there in Rota. Since going to treatment would cost me my top secret clearance and end my Navy career, I opted for the AA meetings. The idea of treatment scared me way more than AA did.

Eventually, I stopped drinking as a result of going to the AA meetings. I woke up one day and realized I had not had a drink for six weeks! A couple of weeks later, I picked up my first chip. It was a two-month chip.

I had not been promoted in eight years. I had given up all hope for ever being promoted and had serious doubts about even completing 20 years in the Navy. But then, nine months after sobering up, I made Chief Petty Officer. I served another 10 years with the Navy. I worked at the CAAC (Counseling and Assistance Center) in Barbers Point, Hawaii, and at a Naval Medical Center as an inpatient counselor. I spent my last year working directly under the commanding officer. I retired in 1987 as a Senior Chief.

Today I continue to be an active member of AA. I’ve held many service positions and sponsor many AA members. I set up our current AA central office here in Murphy, North Carolina, serving 10 communities in three states.

My children, who feared me greatly until I sobered up, are now grown. My grandchildren have never seen me under the influence and are very close to me today. My wife is still with me. We celebrated my 44th AA anniversary last May and will celebrate 56 years of marriage next month.

When I went to AA, I thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. It turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

Everything, absolutely everything, I have today is a direct result of a loving God, working through the program of AA. I thank God for another day, every day, to live in a decent way.

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