Old Enough to Serve, but Not Be Served

Members of the military risk their lives serving their country, but aren't allowed to be served a drink themselves.

Photo Courtesy of MCT Campus

Members of the military risk their lives serving their country, but aren't allowed to be served a drink themselves.

Lola Akinlade, Staff Writer

It is a longtime debate: every day, people risk their lives for their country by serving in the military, but should they be allowed to be served a drink themselves?

The drinking age in America is 21, yet people have to be 17 to serve in the military. Many people get angered that an 18-year-old can take a bullet for their country, decide who they want to lead their country by voting, and smoke, but don’t have the right to be served a drink.

According to Military.com, Maryland state senator Ron Young is working to persuade Maryland lawmakers to let members of the armed services start drinking at age 18.  However, I don’t think that the age should change just for people fighting in the military. If the states decided to have a law only for people fighting in the military, it could open a can of worms. The law would exclude all the honorable underage volunteers, like firefighters and medical workers. If there is going to be a law that changes the drinking age for people who are underage, it should apply to everyone.

The belief that the age of 21 is when your brain is fully developed has many flawed aspects. According to Mentalfloss.com, a site that contains interesting facts, lawmakers picked the age 21 because it was the believed age when a person becomes an adult, which dates back centuries in English common law. Now, the majority of privileges in our country are acquired when a person turns 18, like smoking or voting.  As said on Chooseresponsibility.org, a site that promotes awareness of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, from 1969-1975 when many teens could drink legally, the teen fatality rate decreased by 19 percent.

When teens can drink legally, the excess use of it also declines. Many European countries that have the drinking age younger than 21 also have less drinking-related fatalities than the U.S. According to Worldlifeexpectancy.com, a site that shows life expectancies around the world, Italy’s death rate is categorized as low, while the United States is categorized as pretty high. However, the drinking age in Italy is 16, while the drinking age in the U.S. is 21.  This displays that the fatality rate does not always increase when the drinking age is lower.  As said on the New York Times’ website, when many teens in the U.S. underage drink, they also binge drink, which causes distorted perceptions. Distorted perceptions may cause one to drink while driving, which may then result in a fatality or major injuries. If the law was changed to a younger age and teens were told to drink responsibly, there would be less reckless teens binge drinking just to break the law.

The drinking age of 21 has not proved to be more effective than younger ages from different countries. It would be most logical to change the age not just for people serving in the military, but for everyone.