Alaska May Let Troops Drink at 18

Old enough to serve, old enough to drink, lawmaker says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2011 12:44 AM CDT
Updated Apr 3, 2011 10:26 AM CDT
US. Army Pfc. Jacob Porter from Sellersville, Pa. drinks one of two allotted beers at a dining facility while soldiers gather to watch the Super Bowl XLIII at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq,.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

(Newser) – "Any soldier who braves military combat and risks their life for our country should be treated like an adult—in every sense of the word," says Alaska lawmaker Bob Lynn. The Republican has revived an old controversy with a bill that would allow members of the military under 21 years of age to drink and smoke in the state, Fox reports. Alaskans can't legally drink before they're 21 or smoke before they're 19, although American troops serving abroad are allowed to drink at 18 unless commanders decide otherwise.

Alaska would lose $50 million in federal highway funds if the bill, currently being considered by two state House committees, passes. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he opposes lowering the drinking age for troops. "One of the things we're seeing as a result of repeated tours is not just an increase in suicides but an increase in risky behaviors, particularly by young men. And so that would be a concern of mine," he told a hearing last month.

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