Old enough to fight, old enough to drink: Jack Kingston wants on-base imbibing-age lowered

When Congress finishes its August hiatus, look for U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, to take up an argument that will be achingly familiar to anyone who lived through the Vietnam years.


U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah. Cox News.

He’s got legislation that would allow 18-year-old members of the U.S. military to purchase and consume wine and beer while on base.

The legislation was dropped last month, just as House members walked out the door.

From the Beaufort, S.C., Gazette:

Purchases of beer and wine at base exchanges and convenience stores still would be prohibited, according to the bill.

Kingston, whose congressional district includes Savannah, believes someone mature enough to fight for the country in a time of war is mature enough to have a beer, said his spokesman, Chris Crawford.

“If we’re asking someone to risk their lives in defense of this country and they’re responsible enough for that, we ought to have enough faith in them to have a beer,” Crawford said. “By restricting it to on-post establishments and not allowing them to purchase alcohol intended to be consumed elsewhere, the bill would not impact local and state regulations. It also keeps the alcohol consumption from getting out of control as they would be in establishments with superior officers.”

The bill was referred to the House Armed Services Committee. It is co-sponsored by Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss…..

Not everyone agrees with the bill.

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said lowering the drinking age for active-duty servicemembers could lead to alcohol abuse across the nation’s armed services.

“I normally see eye-to-eye with Jack Kingston on just about everything, but I would oppose that particular piece of legislation,” Wilson said.

Wilson, whose congressional district includes Beaufort County, is the ranking Republican member on the House Armed Services Committee.

Hard liquor would remain off-limits until a service member is 21.

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79 comments Add your comment


August 30th, 2010
4:05 pm

Joe Wilson had it right when he told Obama “You Lie” during his State of the Union speech. He has it wrong on this one.


August 30th, 2010
4:07 pm

“He’s got legislation that would allow 18-year-old members of the U.S. military to purchase and consume wine and beer while on base.”

That doesn’t go far enough. If the Georgia Bulldogs are ever going to be competitive, this needs to be expanded to also allow 18 year old football players to consume wine and beer while on campus. The team is losing all its good players to suspensions and expulsions.

Jefferson Jackson

August 30th, 2010
4:22 pm

We had state wide drinking for 18 year olds back in the earlty seventies, a result of the large number if Viet-Nam war vets who wanted to drink a beer in peace. I thought it worked reasonably well, and I still believe it would if Americans took the same attitude about drinking as Europeans do. They drink to enjoy themselves, not to get drunk. Fifteen year olds drink beer publically (and legally) in Germany, but you rarely see a drunk over there. Unless it’s a drunk American. You see a lot of them.


August 30th, 2010
4:25 pm

This fairly common sense especially if it only applied to soldiers on base.

Retired Soldier

August 30th, 2010
4:26 pm

Good for Kingston, let the troops have a beer.

Mr. KnowitAll

August 30th, 2010
4:27 pm

We should grant them on-base, small piece of solace to our dedicated servicemen.

ga female

August 30th, 2010
4:36 pm

It is absolutely absurd that the drinking age was raised to 21. I grew up where it was 18. If you are old enough to Vote, you should be old enough to drink, not only beer, wine but liquor. This should apply to everyone.

But to stop the high school drop out problem, the high school drop out age should be raised to 18, or the completion of the minimum requirements for graduation. You can’t drink until you graduate from High School.

Retired Soldier

August 30th, 2010
4:39 pm

I like that idea ga female.


August 30th, 2010
4:59 pm

Sounds like a simple way to get enlistment up…


August 30th, 2010
5:13 pm

@Jefferson Jackson, you are mistaken by this common myth. In reality, the drinking problem in Europe is rather large, not what most Americans think. They idealize the situation there because, yes, 15 year olds do in fact drink alcohol legally. What they are not aware of is the impact on their society that this early drinking as well as binge drinking has. The cost to society is enormous, not only in vandalism, but vehicular accidents, injuries and fatalities. Not to mention the effect it has on young, still-developing brains. Enough research data is available that supports the nefarious and deleterious effect of alcohol on teens. European countries have worse problems than America does, as far as binge drinking and drinking to intoxication. Studies show that Europe has more underage drunkenness, injury, rape, and school problems due to alcohol. Since alcohol is more available there, it actually increases the proportion of kids who drink in Europe. Too bad some people need alcohol in order to relax, or have fun. They seem to need it like oxygen and this is a sad thing to encourage. Our troops are already in harm’s way, why add to their problems by having them return home with an increased rate of alcoholism or cirrhosis of the liver? People, give alcohol the boot before it kicks you in the rear. Believe it or not, you CAN relax, and have a great time without artificial stimulants (yes, I realize alcohol is derived naturally but that’s a question of semantics. The truth is if you’re not relaxed or having fun to begin with, then adding alcohol into the mix just increases your risk factors, with acting stupid the least of them. If you don’t think you are, it’s because alcohol inhibits your perception of reality and you’re no longer aware of how loud and embarrassing you have become following one or two (or more) drinks. Sorry to be the one to be honest enough about this, most people won’t tell it like it is.


August 30th, 2010
5:29 pm

Since it was Reagan who forced the states to raise the drinking age including military members I wonder how they’re going to blame Obama for this one?


August 30th, 2010
5:30 pm

Old enough to vote, old enough to take a bullet for our country, old enough to have a drink… It should never have been changed from 18…


August 30th, 2010
8:12 pm

Drinking age is nice, but how about doing with the medical care for those returning injured vets. How about doing something for those families whose soldiers are on long tours. Does this man own a beer store near the post??


August 30th, 2010
8:32 pm

Before President Reagan changed the law, soldiers could buy alcohol at 18 on military bases whether or not state law was different. Since my father was retired, I could shop on base and also buy alcohol when I reached 18. That was in ‘67. Although many folks befriended me because of that, it really wasn’t worth it. Most states changed the law to allow those 18 to purchase alcohol in the early seventies and the results were not good. It’s true that some at eighteen are mature and ready to accept the responsibility but most are not. You can argue whether or not we need additional regulation but how many drunks and victims do you want on the side of the rode?

Reagan was wrong

August 30th, 2010
9:20 pm

I’d like to see them change the age for everything to 18. Lower the drinking age, raise the driving age.


August 30th, 2010
9:58 pm

my representative, by about 2 blocks, is a former closing attorney and reserve jag lawyer joe wilson. when he ran against non-veterans he emphasized his military experience. now he is running against a marine combat veteran as i am. it is absurd to deny serving military the right to consume alcohol on base. i served with and was led by both drinking and non-drinking noncoms and officers both here and in nam. wilson’s opposition just shows how out of touch he is with real veterans, not paper pushing glorified draft evaders. of course he also voted to keep my ancestors and his absurd naval ensign flying over our state house. he is a proud member of the gingrich school of hypocritical lunacy.

Jenny Lee

August 30th, 2010
10:05 pm

It is that way in Korea… the 21 year olds buy for the younger soldiers.


August 30th, 2010
10:35 pm

If, you are old enough, to fight and die for your country. YOU SHOULD BE OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK, AND BUY LIQUOR, BEER, OR WINE.


August 30th, 2010
10:38 pm

Its the right thing to do. A meaningful gesture for people that deserve to be treated like the adults they are for what they give for our country. I think Rep. Kingston should push for them to be allowed to buy alcohol anywhere in America as well being allowed to go to bars or nightclubs as long as they have proper military ID.


August 30th, 2010
10:56 pm

These politicians are constantly being asked their position on a particular subject, and then they answer with their position. Their answer should always be, “I will represent the majority of the will of my constituents.”



August 30th, 2010
10:58 pm

All 18 year olds should be able to drink. It’s part of the college experience. How can you sing as part of your school song “I drink my whiskey clear” when you can’t until you’re a senoir???


August 30th, 2010
11:02 pm

omg…the first poster Rickster? Is he a retard? Take your sorry a$$ out to the battlefield instead of sitting behind this blog “typing”…let’s see YOU dodge bullitts!! and THEN be denied a drink at the bar!!!


August 30th, 2010
11:03 pm

If you are old enough to volunteer to get your azz shot off then you are old enough to have a drink. If, as a society, we have determined that 18 is old enough to make an informed decision regarding military service, then that person is (having volunteered his/her services to our country) duly qualified to make a decision – informed or otherwise – about drinking alcohol.


August 30th, 2010
11:12 pm

For all the ” wanna bees ” in this country; In a combat zone pleasures are far and few in-between. To have a cigarette ( no!! I gave it up long ago ) , maybe a cold beer with your men ( all right!! some women ) is the only good stuff, that reminds you of home, in the hell of a combat zone. For the experts: this media based country produces, they are all so smart about what the solider needs, where he goes, how he thinks, what he needs in the future…its all horse dung!! they don’t know they have never been in a combat zone…Its like a virgin giving you bedroom advice..Yea ! Right

civi dawg

August 30th, 2010
11:23 pm

I was forced to discipline a 20 year old soldier for getting caught drinking at barracks after returning from a year long tour in Sadr City. It seems a lot of politicians feel that the military should be ’seen and not heard’. Alcohol and militaries have been entwined since the beginning of recorded history and, right or wrong, alcohol is a part of the military tradition. Our young men are old enough to bleed and die for this country; they should be old enough to drink in public without fear of punishment in this country.


August 30th, 2010
11:26 pm

Did anyone think to ask the military itself about this issue? Members of Congress are continually micromanaging our Armed Forces. Usually it is in the form of weapons programs that the military says it doesn’t need but are important to a special interest group of the member of Congress.

As others have stated, it was during the Reagan administration that the drinking age was raised to 21 for members of military. Perhaps they’d like it lowered back to 18, perhaps not. I’d feel better if the military was given a chance to decide either way instead of it being a Congressional mandate. Who knows, given the flexibility, perhaps they’d make it 18 in combat zones but 21 at home. I don’t know what they’d do but would like the option be that of those who work with these young members of the Armed Forces day to day instead of a politician.

Baldemar Huerta

August 30th, 2010
11:28 pm

I’ve got a better idea…Let’s make things consistent, and raise the voting age to 21.

Bobby Anthony

August 30th, 2010
11:31 pm

The age to consume should be 18.


August 30th, 2010
11:42 pm

Last time I checked; the military was a job you applied for. Why should government workers get special priviledges?


August 30th, 2010
11:45 pm

For all the obvious reasons mentioned and probably hundreds more, this is th rightthing to do. Treating 20 year olds, much less soilders, like children is what’s wrong with this “nanny” country. No wonder 20-somethings are regressing.

Too bad Jack Kingston didn’t run for governor instead of Nathan Deal.


August 30th, 2010
11:47 pm

BTW, who exactly votes in this country?? I thought it was just old geezers like me. I can not blame the younger citizens not having much of a choice or anyone they feel they can trust.


August 30th, 2010
11:47 pm

If that’s the case, it should be 18 for eveybody and not just overpaid government workers.

Reason has left the building.

August 30th, 2010
11:57 pm

JesusFreak – Guess what! Jesus..DRANK ALCOHOL! He even turned water into alcohol so OTHER PEOPLE could drink it.

I hate to disillusion you (well, no I actually take great pleasure in it) but alcohol is quite possibly one of the most important substances in human history. Its presence has been identified back at LEAST as far as 10,000 BC (Please don’t have some kind of Young Earther stroke, Jesus Freak – I know the whole “the earth is older than 6000 years old” concept freaks people like you out), and given the simple chemistry of fermentation, it’s likely that unintentional alcohol existed well before that. Alcoholic beverages like wheat-heavy beers served as food sources. Alcohol has served as religious sacrament (again, please see the whole wine thing. Hint: Southern Baptists are wrong about the whole grape juice thing), peace-making beverage, celebratory drink…etc. etc. etc.

Just because you’ve been brainwashed by other “Jesus Freaks” doesn’t change the very POSITIVE role that alcoholic beverages have served throughout the history of mankind.

And seriously – when you call alcohol a STIMULANT, you show just what an idiot you really are. Alcohol is properly defined as a DEPRESSANT. And just for the record, both stimulant and depressant refer to the effects of a substance on the central nervous system – it doesn’t mean that alcohol makes you “depressed”.


August 31st, 2010
12:04 am

Tim, I love my government worker wife!!. She makes a lot of money, but has the certifications and the education to justifie it . Government workers get all of their tax dollars back through out the year and a lot of yours. The smart, young and educated professionals that work around my wife know one thing you don’t !!, you can’t beat them ( US Gov.) so why not join them..think-about it.

Donna Wright

August 31st, 2010
12:11 am

Jesus Freak is correct. If you think Europe doesn’t have an alcohol problem since young people can drink legally, you are mistaken. If all people drank was the little bit (at communion or other times) there would be no DUI. The Bible does speak against drunkenness by the way. This is particularly a problem when people begin to drive since they are unable many times to tell they are impaired. It is addictive and the reason anyone came up with limiting the age in the first place was to try to help, not harm people.


August 31st, 2010
12:51 am

@Mike: you are totally and completely incorrect. If we did that, we would have a democracy, and the founding fathers thought that was a terrible idea. We are a republic. We elect people to positions and they are to make decisions, because (supposedly) they have all the information and facts before them.


August 31st, 2010
12:52 am

seriously – raise the driving age to 25, and the voting age to 25. Then lower the drinking age to 18.

barking frog

August 31st, 2010
6:22 am

Let’s tie the drinking age to the fighting age,

Can’t fight-Can’t drink. Can’t drink-Can’t fight


August 31st, 2010
7:01 am

Sarge: “Here Sonny, take this assault rifle, courtesy of Uncle Sam, and blast that taliban into oblivion. This is a dangerous job and some of you MEN won’t be coming back. I’ll have the Captain write your family if that happens, and he’ll tell them you MEN died protecting their freedom.”

Sonny asks: “Hey Sarge, since I’m probably gonna die anyway, can I go get me one of those 3.2 beers? I sure would like to be free to drink one”

Sarge: “You ain’t old enough, your just 19. If you touch one of those evil beers, I will personally lock your cell in the brig.”

Sonny: “Yes Sir, I get it. I am old enough die for freedom, but I ain’t old enough have freedom myself.”

Sarge: “That’s it Sonny. Now go up there on that front line and mix it up with the taliban. What is getting into the youth of today, thinking they don’t have any responsibilities?”


August 31st, 2010
7:08 am

give the MAN a beer, and a hotdog!


August 31st, 2010
7:12 am

“seriously – raise the driving age to 25, and the voting age to 25. Then lower the drinking age to 18.”

atlmom, are you crazy?
and I guess you would raise the legal breast feeding age for boys to say maybe, let’s see around 22?????

you are a sicko, mommy wants to keep lil Bradley at home and away from all those nasty lil girls…….gimme a break!


August 31st, 2010
7:16 am

I’d rather change the minimum age to join the armed services to 21. We’ve sacrificed enough boys to the war gods.

J. Davis

August 31st, 2010
7:22 am

I usually agree with Rep. Kingston, but he is wrong on this one. There is no such thing as someone “mature enough to drink.” Just because you can train a young man to kill what makes one think he is “responsible” enough to handle alcholic beverages. Let’s be reasonable, the drinking age should be when a person retires, that way they can be confined to their residence and not be annoying and dangerous to the rest of the community.


August 31st, 2010
7:25 am

To “reason has left the building”…………..show us your evidence. Who told you Jesus drink alcohol? You are just another uneducated fool who makes up Bible stories to justify his own wrong doing.

The truth

August 31st, 2010
7:35 am

Kingston think they should also be allowed to run for his Job? I wonder what beer supplier got in his ear, and with what? Oh, and I had a beer at 18 on base so don’t even go there.


August 31st, 2010
7:37 am

Why is booze illegal anyway? How can the government regulate a plant that grows in your yard and say you can’t smoke it? If pleasuring yourself is illegal then we are all guilty. I’m sure the Baptists are working on that legislation, too.


August 31st, 2010
7:49 am

It is outrageous that a member of the US military cannot drink a beer either on base, or off base. Restricting legal access until someone is 21 only leads to illegal access – the law should be changed for all of society, not just the military,


August 31st, 2010
8:04 am

Up until the seventies 18 year olds couldn’t vote, but they could fight and die for thier country. Imagine that? I remember the arguments coming from the right against extending voting rights to 18 year olds. Conservatives always come down on the wrong side of history no matter the issue.


August 31st, 2010
8:21 am

We all drink before 21 anyways.


August 31st, 2010
8:26 am

The Last Supper. “Eat this bread and drink this cup.” Jesus drank wine. He was cool with it. Just not drinking in excess. Throughout the Bible, there’s plenty of references that say drinking is OK, just in moderation. Over-indulgence of anything is frowned upon.

“Wine is praised; it rejoices God and men.” (Judges 9:13)
“it gladdens the heart of men” (Psalms 104:15)
“it gladdens life” (Exodus 10:19)

There’s plenty more…