Drinking-age bill for military may cost Alaska
JUNEAU — Alaska is the latest state to weigh in on a long-running argument: If you’re old enough to fight anddie for your country, you should be old enough to drink a beer.
An Alaska lawmaker who served in Vietnam is pushing a bill that would allow active-duty service members under 21 to drink alcohol as long as they could produce an armed forces identification card. Those under 19 — Alaska’s smoking age — would be allowed to buy tobacco products.
“It’s not fair that one guy in a fox hole can go home and have a beer while another guy in the fox hole can’t,” said GOP Rep. Bob Lynn. “It’s not about drinking; it’s not about smoking — it’s about equality.”
But Lynn’s bill has received a cool reception from the state’s armed forces commanders, who worry it would spur unhealthy behavior in a military that wants to reduce smoking and drinking.
And if the bill passes, the state stands to lose at least $17 million in federal highway funding, state transportation officials say, because Alaska would be in violation of the national minimum drinking age statute.