By Staff Sgt. Andrew Porch
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Drunken driving incidents are taking a hit at Fort Carson and surrounding areas thanks to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Soldiers volunteering for a Colorado Springs designated driver program.
In its fourth year, Designated Driver of Colorado Springs allows Soldiers to go out, have a good time and not worry about getting themselves or their vehicles home safely after a night of drinking.
“It’s great for Soldiers, and it’s a great experience helping people out,” said Spc. Miguel Vasquez, a volunteer driver with Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. “You feel good helping people out, and people show a lot of gratitude.”
Operating Thursday-Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., the program sends two volunteer drivers to a sponsored location to pick up an intoxicated individual, his vehicle and any passengers who came with him and bring them safely to their final destination.
“It’s Soldiers helping Soldiers,” said Spc. David Sharp, two-year volunteer driver, from Company A, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT.
“I love to help Soldiers, and I have seen what a (drunken driving incident) can do to a Soldier and his Family,” said Sharp. “I try to do my part to prevent (DUIs) from happening.”
The service would not be possible if it wasn’t for the support of Fort Carson Soldiers, said Noni Rispin, program founder and executive director.
“Ninety-five percent of our volunteer drivers are Fort Carson Soldiers,” she said. “My volunteers from Fort Carson are absolutely amazing; I can’t talk highly enough of them.”
Rispin noted that a former post Soldier logged more than 800 hours and several current drivers have 300-400 volunteer hours with the program.
Volunteering for the program allows Soldiers to work toward their Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
“The time spent volunteering goes toward your volunteer ribbon and promotion points,” said Vasquez.
The program is open to all residents of the Front Range community and has provided more than 13,000 safe rides. Since the program’s inception, more than 700 designated drivers have been military personnel, Rispin said.
“It’s a great resource for Soldiers,” said 1st Lt. Brian Garcia, program volunteer, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Special Troops Battalion. “It helps prevent DUIs and keeps Soldiers safe; able to deploy and accomplish the mission.”