Na Koa Award spotlights designated drivers

| May 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Oahu chapter of the Drunk Driving Prevention Program gather recently at their display table while reaching out to the local community. Spc. Matthew Von Stetten, (bottom center, blue shirt) is president of the Oahu Chapter. (Photo by Christine Cabalo, Oahu Publications)


Karen A. Iwamoto

Staff Writer
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — When Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the 25th Infantry Division and U.S. Army Hawaii, thanked volunteers at the 2017 Volunteer Awards Ceremony on April 28, he made a point to single out Spc. Matthew Von Stetten, president of the Oahu Chapter of the Drunk Driving Prevention Program.

The DDPP is a national nonprofit run by volunteers. It offers designated driver services to Soldiers, family members and DOD civilians who are intoxicated and need a safe ride home.

“As your commander, I can’t tell you how much time and effort and heartache Spc. Von Stetten must have saved me by taking our off-duty Soldiers home,” Cavoli told those gathered at the ceremony.

Von Stetten said he was honored by Cavoli’s unexpected acknowledgement.

“I’m not sure I was making as big an impact, but I guess I did without realizing it,” he said.

He said volunteering for DDPP provided him with a mission: To be a role model to other Soldiers and keep them from making bad decisions that could ruin their careers or even their lives.

He was inspired to volunteer after serving on the funeral detail of a young Soldier who had been killed by a drunken driver in 2015. The Soldier was a newlywed who had been returning from leave with his bride when the collision occurred.

Von Statten said he remembered standing in front of the church at the funeral and absorbing the pain and suffering of the Soldier’s friends and relatives. He signed up for DDPP shortly after.

“Every ride is potentially a life saved,” he said.

How it works
Drivers who want to be picked up call the program’s dispatch line at 888-7407 or use the program’s free app, which notifies volunteers and gives them the GPS coordinates of the caller’s location. Volunteers pick up drivers anywhere on Oahu between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Drivers provide their license plate numbers and their DOD identifications, and sign a liability waiver.

The volunteers will find out how many people need a ride and whether the vehicle in question is standard or automatic. If the caller has a motorcycle, there are volunteers on call who can ride the bikes back. If drivers need medical emergency care, volunteers will drive them to a hospital and notify their family members.

The service is free and open to Soldiers and DOD civilians. It is confidential, and Soldiers who use the service will not be reported to their chain of command.

Why it matters
Driving under the influence can negatively impact an individual’s career. When a Soldier is arrested for driving under the influence off post in Hawaii, it is reported to the military police, and the Soldier’s chain of command is notified. Individuals could have their driving privileges revoked, and Soldiers could compromise their chances of promotion.

Beyond the impact on an individual’s career is the impact on the lives of those on the road. One in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Get involved
To volunteer for the DDPP program or the many other Army programs that rely on volunteers to thrive, visit the Volunteer Management Information System at myarmyonesource.com and click on “Volunteer Tools.”

Those who use DDPP’s services are encouraged to volunteer as a way to pay it forward. Hours compiled in VMIS carry over when Soldiers, family members and DOD civilians move posts.

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Category: Community

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