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When I was in basic training, we often heard, “Smoke ‘em of ya got ‘em.” The rest of us had to go inside. It was like being punished for not smoking.
I’m reminded of an era when military C-rations included cigarettes.
Then, at some point, the government became aware of how much cigarette-related illnesses were costing, and “suddenly” the military turned anti-smoking.
Gone were the ubiquitous butt cans and heavy glass ashtrays. I was active duty when this happened. The public message touted the government’s concern for our health, but we all knew the underlying motivation was fiscal in nature.
Whatever the reason, a significant change—and a good change—occurred.
When I joined the military in 1979, I often heard the phrase, “If the Air Force wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one.”
My, how times changed.
In the early 80s, the military began to recognize that an effective (and happy) military person was directly related to the wellbeing of his or her family. Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But actually, the military realized that the effectiveness of the military member was directly affected by the well-being of his or her family.
As you proceed, think about the efficacy of family and friends in the lives of vets, especially in terms of transition and reintegration.
For more information:
U.S. Army MWR History. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Arvey, Sarah R.; Malone, Ruth E. (2008). “Advance and Retreat: Tobacco
Control Policy in the U.S. Military”. Military Medicine. 173: 985–991. doi:10.7205/milmed.173.10.985. http://publications.amsus.org/doi/pdf/10.7205/MILMED.173.10.985
Department of Defense: Report on smoking and health in the military, 1986.
Available at http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/ikp35d00.
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