A parable about getting help


In The Basic School (TBS) Quantico, there was a problem with Marines getting DUIs or getting stuck out in town drunk.

Around 2004-2005ish, a solution was created. Called “Arrive Alive”, the Staff Duty would have a lockbox with some cash. The Staff Duty had a logbook and the key for this box. If a Marine who was out in town found them selves drunk and unable to drive, or unable to pay for a taxi for what ever reason, they could get a taxi to bring them on base to the Battalion Staff Duty Officer. Who ever this Staff NCO was, they would pay the taxi fare from the lock box and note who the Marine was. That Marine would then repay the cost by the next payday. If the Marine lived off base and it was not working hours, they could sleep in the room set aside for the Staff Duty Officer until they sobered up.

This way Marines could get safely to base. There would be no excuse for a DUI, since a Marine wouldn’t have to drive them selves, and if they were broke, they could still get a ride.

We had that for about a year with out anyone using it. Our superiors would mention it every liberty briefs and the like. Until finally someone did use it. This Marine was out in town, got drunk, and didn’t want to drive drunk back to base. So he got a taxi and used this “Arrive Alive” program.

In return, the command punished him. I can’t remember if this jarhead just got an Article 15, or a full blown NJP, but the command tried to punish him as much and in every way they could.

Sometimes people need help. But when we punish people who try to get help, we discourage everyone from getting help.

This applies to everything. It seems like every week I read or hear some story of a cop or soldier to afraid to report their PTSD due to fear of backlash, ridicule, punishment, appearing weak, etc.

Recently, there was news articles about the FBI taking credit for stopping a mass shooting. What happened was that the guy’s Grandmother noticed he had issues, and talked him into going to a hospital. The Grandmother is the real hero here, not the federal agents trying to take credit. This guy consented to a police search, and in return he is rewarded with charges and is facing up to 5 years of jail time.

Now, it does sound like this guy broke the law. It was likely foolish of him to consent to a search. But if we go after and punish every single person who asks for help, people are not going to ask for help.


  1. “But when we punish people who try to get help, we discourage everyone from getting help.”

    This describes a lot of corporate life too.

    It all comes down to trust: making your actions line up with your words. Command failed at this, and I’ve seen the same problem a million times in the corporate world also.


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