Military bars & underage soldiers

In the US the drinking age is 21 in the 50 states and Washington DC, but you only have to be 17 to join the military. So can servicemembers 17-20 drink in bars/canteens on military bases? I know Navy ships are dry but I don’t think the bases are.

I used to drink in civilian and military bars when I was 17. Most civilian bars would serve anyone who had a military ID. We even had beer machines in the barracks when I was at the U.S. Army Signal School at Fort Gordon, Georgia. These days, with the “new puritanism” that has swept the country, I’ve heard that this is no longer the case.

The age at which military members can drink on base is the same as wherever the base is located. That means in these United States, 17-20 year old servicemen can’t drink. In overseas bases, the age depends on local law- for example, 20 year olds can drink on bases in Japan, since that is the legal age there.

mks57, when were you in the military? The legal drinking age in all the states was 18 at one time. So drinking on base, or anywhere for that matter, at 17 was not that big a deal.
Was the age to drink 21 or 18 at the time?

I was in the Army from 1974 to 1978. I don’t remember what the drinking age was back then, 18 for beer/wine?

The military bars/clubs never asked for ID. If you were there, you were old enough.

So our troops are allowed to control dangerous weapons, risk their lives in combat but we still won’t let them have a beer? I thougt federal land was exempt from state laws? Overseas bases I understand we’d need an agreement with the host gov’t but no country has stricter liquor laws than us (maybe Saudi Arabia) that wouldn’t be a problem. Does this mean military bars and officers’ clubs need to get a license from the state’s LCB too?

This can get a little more complicated than you think. Some military bases are exclusive federal enclaves within a state. That happens when the state has ceded jurisdiction to the federal government. In those situations the law of the state and the state law enforcement mechanism carries only such weight as the federal government sees fit to allow it to have. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri is a post that is part exclusive federal and part concurrent federal and state jurisdiction. This becomes important when, for instance, two civilian employees get into a knife fight in the quartermaster warehouse. If the warehouse is on concurrent ground the resulting criminal case can be prosecuted in the Missouri Circuit Court in and for Pulaski County. If it is on exclusive federal ground then the case must start with the federal magistrate who typically visits the post once or twice a month and ends up in the federal court house in Kansas City.

Similarity, my little sister was born in the army hospital at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Since Fort Sam is an exclusive federal enclave she has no Texas birth certificate. The only document that verifies her birth is what amounts to a hand receipt from the Headquarters Company of Brooke General Army Hospital. That was in 1944 so things may have changed since then.

On the other hand my first daughter was born in the 2d General Army Hospital In Landstuhl, Germany. Because her situation was controlled by German law under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement she has a German birth certificate, and a US State Department “record of birth of US citizen overseas.”

As far as booze is concerned, in exclusive enclaves the drinking age is what ever the feds say it is. I think the feds say 18 for beer which is just about all the EM Clubs served. The NCO clubs served hard stuff. On concurrent jurisdiction posts the drinking age was what ever the state law said but generally the state authorities had the good sense to leave soldiers drinking on post alone. 18 seems to have been the general rule in the EM Clubs.

When was the drinking age 18 in ALL the states? Cite?

Between 1970 and 1975, more than half the states, twenty-nine, set the legal drinking age at 18. In any of these states, it doesn’t seem like it would have been a big deal that military bars allowed any serviceman to drink. The 17 year old soldier was few and far between.
That was the point I was trying to make. Just that someone’s anecdote about drinking on base while under 21 would be irrelevant if that state’s legal drinking age was 18. That’s all.

I’ll be more careful with my big huge brush next time. … Hell, I was only alive during the last 5 months of the 70s. What would I know?

I thought it was 21 across the board these days, at least in the States. My brother doesn’t know otherwise, and he’s in the Air Force and will be 21 next March.

I strongly suspect that if a base is located somewhere with a more liberal drinking age, they have to go off-base to drink legally at said age.

I’ll try to get in touch with him and ask.

According to my sister, who is both under 21 and in the Air Force, you have to be 21 to drink on-base in the US. She’s not sure about bases on foreign soil.

Stationed in Germany from 89-91. Drinking age was 18 on base because of local laws. I then went to Fort Hood and the drinking age was 21. I think its still that way in Germany. I know the drinking age is 21 in any base in America and they card. When I was at Fort Knox it was in the middle of a dry county. There was drinking on base.

I turned legal drinking age in '78, when it was 18 here in Wisconsin (and half of every where else), but I knew not ALL states had 18 (at least not all at the same time). Between '78 and 82 I had traveled to quite a few states. There was always some place where I’d walk into a bar like I’d owned the place, then be shocked when I was tossed out 'cause the drinking age was 19, 20, or 21. “Duh, you mean the drinking age isn’t 18 every where?”:stuck_out_tongue:
I remember once being in Buffalo, New York (If I recall the age was 18 there) I was 2 months away from my 21st birthday. This club wouldn’t let me in because, even though I was 20, and even though the drinking age was 18, the establishment had a policy of 21 & over! I was so pissed!

My dad returned from Vietnam in 1969 at the age of 19 (or maybe a month or so shy) and he could not get a beer in Haiwaii, military ID or no.

Since then he has not been back to Haiwaii nor has he stopped drinking alot just to spite those darn rules :rolleyes:

In overseas military installations the drinking age on base is at the Commanding Officer of the base’s discretion. Nearly 100% of the time they permit 18 year olds to drink alcohol on base because the laws “out in town” are leniant/non-existant and they do not want them to have to leave to get drunk. In any situation they would prefer them to be drinking on base than risk an accident.

By the way, ships are not completely “dry”. See the Wikipedia article I wrote on Beer Day:

Photo included :wink:

That makes sense. A lot more sense than it being 21 on base anywhere in the world, come to think of it. But the military doesn’t always make sense, as anybody who’s had anything to do with it knows.

I joined the Army at age 18, in 1989.

After Basic Training, we drank in the local bars in Ft. Sill, OK. I stayed there through AIT, and spent most off our off duty time at some local strip clubs. I don’t recall drinking any alcohol at the E-Club, but I definitely remember cooking out and drinking beers on base without any hassle or repercussions.

After AIT, I went to Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA for Jump School and RIP. While we didn’t go out during the week, we drank quite frequently at the bars on base on the weekends (more so during Jump School - RIP wasn’t quite so easy, and we spent most weekends working on our gear and uniforms)

After I spent about a year in Battalion at Benning, I was transferred to Italy, where again there were no problems with drinking on or off base.

No facts, just what I remember of my time in…

I joined in 1989 as well. I was 21 so it didn’t matter to me. During AIT in Ft Rucker Alabama the underage drinkers would sneek off into the woods to drink. There was no drinking in the bars on or off post for anyone under 21. Your ass would be in a sling if you were caught. As I mentioned above, in Germany it was 18.