2IBCT Soldier gives all to prevent drunk driving

| July 20, 2017 | 0 Comments
Spc. Matthew Von Stetten, president of the Oahu chapter of the Drunk Driving Prevention Program, poses for a photo at an awards ceremony. (Photo courtesy of 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Spc. Matthew Von Stetten, president of the Oahu chapter of the Drunk Driving Prevention Program, poses for a photo at an awards ceremony. (Photo courtesy of 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

1st Lt. Jordan Linder
2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Live music blasting through the hall, flashing lights as people dance and the company of great friends, all on the world famous Waikiki Beach, makes the bars and restaurants of Honolulu a huge attraction.
However, drinking while out at bars and restaurants opens up the possibility of Soldiers getting DUIs.
Spc. Matthew Von Stetten, president of the Oahu chapter of the Drunk Driving Prevention Program, wants to eliminate that possibility.

Tragedy becomes a quest
When Von Stetten first arrived on island, he was assigned to the 65th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and soon learned of a Soldier in his new battalion who passed away while on leave for his wedding. The Soldier had been in a vehicle that had been struck by another vehicle whose driver had been drinking.

The incident impacted the unit, the family and Von Stetten. It had an enormous impact on his urge to volunteer.
“I have had individuals close to me impacted by the outcome of drunk driving,” said Von Stetten. “One incident is too many, and by volunteering for the Drunk Driving Prevention Program, I knew I could help prevent those events.”
The DDPP started in 2008 and the Oahu chapter opened on Schofield Barracks in 2013. The service is a way to safely get Soldiers who had been out drinking back home.

The program initially started for service members in the Army, but has spread across the island and branches of service.

“Our organization has had an enormous impact; even just from what I have witnessed while volunteering,” said Marine Sgt. Cameron Payne, vice president of the Oahu DDPP chapter. “On one of my first pickups, we picked up service members who would have gone through a DUI checkpoint down the street had they chosen to drive. Through our efforts we prevented that, and countless other DUIs.”

The DDPP works by allowing Soldiers to call in and get picked up if plans fall through with a designated driver. Individuals call a dispatcher and two volunteers are sent on location. One drives the individuals who called, the other drives those individuals’ vehicle.

Unlike other ride services such as taxis, the DDPP is free to Department of Defense civilians and service members. Patrons are asked to pay it forward and volunteer in the program at a later date.

Von Stetten initially started as a driver for the program, but quickly worked his way up through the ranks of the organization. After returning from a Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) rotation, on March 4, the national president of the DDPP called him to ask to take over as the chapter president.

“I really just want to set the right example,” said Von Stetten. “Each person picked up using the program is potentially a life saved.”

Through his work in the DDPP, Von Stetten has contributed nearly 1,900 hours. He has been acknowledged at both the brigade and division levels.

Results/recognition
“The Oahu Drunk Driving Prevention Program saves lives,” said Army Col. Anthony Lugo, Commander of 2nd IBCT. “Spc. Von Stetten’s contributions have made a positive impact not only within our brigade but across the Department of Defense and the Oahu community.”

Most recently, he has been recognized as the United States Army Hawaii Drunk Driving Prevention Volunteer of the Year and 25th Infantry Division Volunteer of the Year for 2016.

The DDPP awarded Von Stetten with a Superior Volunteer Service Award. He was the first person to receive this award since the program started.

“Matthew is one of the hardest working people I know,” said Payne. “When I give the DDPP brief at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, I tell Marines that his work ethic is a great example of what it means to be a role model. The program wouldn’t be where it is today without him.”

The DDPP is continuing to grow across installations in the Army. The organization is always looking for volunteers and service members that can lead by example.

“The most rewarding part of the program, and my experience, is knowing that I was able to get others to join and do the same thing,” said Von Stetten. “I made an impact on other’s lives and that this program will continue to grow after I move.”

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