AADD Airmen protect wingmen, provide safe rides home

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Thomas Barley
  • 509th Bomb Wing

One simple turn of a key can have dire consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 thousand Americans die each year to alcohol-related crashes.

“I grew up with an alcoholic father,” said United States Air Force Capt. Sabra Bates, President of the Airmen Against Drunk Driving (AADD) program at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. “Most of my childhood I remember having to load up in the car with my mother and having to get him from the bar when he couldn't drive himself home.”

AADD is an organization formed entirely of Airmen volunteers who are dedicated to making sure their Wingmen have a guaranteed and safe ride home. The program services the local area around Whiteman AFB to include Knob Noster, Warrensburg, Sadalia and Holden.

Bates said she grew up in a time before DUIs came with heavy punishments. Her father had accumulated 5 DUIs.

Today, first time offenses can cost drivers upwards of $10 thousand in fines and legal fees. Additionally, first-time offenders may be charged with up to 6 months in jail.

She said that her father had many friends that he would drink with and recalls a night where one of them decided to drink and drive.

“One night while my dad was out drinking, he left in the same direction that the other individual did,” she said. “My dad made it home, but his friend ended up killing a family of four.”

Bates says that in her eyes, her father was just as guilty as his friend.

“He was just lucky that he didn't kill that family of four,” she said.

Bates attributes her passion for the AADD program to the family of four who lost their lives that night.

“That family had no choice that night and that's why I do this,” she said “I want to protect every family on the road that doesn't have the choice of you getting in the vehicle and turning that key while you’ve been drinking.”

Bates says that everyone should have a plan to get home, but if your plans do fall through, AADD is there for Team Whiteman.

“We want to be a reliable plan and a number they should automatically think of to call before they choose to drive,” said Bates.

The AADD service is free and confidential for all that use it and is open to all DoD ID cardholders.

“That includes spouses, retirees and service members from other branches.” Said Bates

Bates leads the AADD team made up of people like Staff Sgt. Tyler Anderson, a volunteer coordinator who has been an AADD volunteer since fall of 2016.

“We currently have 60 members in AADD and in 2019 we provided rides for 383 people,” said Anderson.

Bates says that the program started with 10 active members and has grown leaps and bounds since she started in 2016.

“We have more volunteers, we’re more present than ever and I think we have become more trustworthy and reliable to the community we serve,” said Bates.

With the start of the new year Bates says that she’d like to increase fundraising and partner with more organizations in the community.

“Anyone over the age of 18 that has a DoD ID can volunteer to be in AADD,” said Bates “This is a Team Whiteman initiative and we’d love to get as many people involved as we can.”

For a ride home contact (660) 687-RIDE. Find the number on AF Connect, the official app of Whiteman AFB. To volunteer, visit the base internal SharePoint page.