Military Connection: DOD Bans Ice Bucket Challenge: By Debbie Gregory

Ice Bucket ChallengeFor the past several weeks, we’ve seen them on television, in the news, and on our social media accounts– our friends (and some people we wish were our friends) responses to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 70. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS sufferers eventually leads to their death. In order to raise awareness and raise funds to help find a cure for ALS, many people have taken to the challenge.

It is not clear where the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge originated, but the premise is simple. Once challenged, an individual is faced with the option of donating $100 to the ALS Association or dumping a bucket of ice water over their head. Challengers are supposed to video record the ice water shower and in the video, challenge three of their friends to donate and/or get soaked. Thousands of Americans have accepted the challenge, many choosing to donate AND face the bucket. The ALS Association claims to have raised nearly $80 million for their cause over the last few weeks as a result of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Included among the thousands of participants, many active duty service members have accepted and posted their Ice Bucket Challenge. There have been several instances of service members posting videos of their ice shower while in their uniforms, PT attire, and pride gear. The Pentagon has issued a reminder that participating in unauthorized activities while in uniform or otherwise implying that the U.S. military is affiliated with an event or charity is prohibited.

“The ALS Association is a national non-profit organization. As such, participating in this event is subject to concerns about implied endorsement.”

The DOD has banned service members from participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge in uniform, including civilian uniforms.

Many media outlets have taken to bashing the DOD for its stance on members participation in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Some have even mistakenly interpreted “civilian uniform” to mean that the DOD banned all participation by service members. Of course, that is not the case. Service members can still video themselves taking an ice-cold shower for charity, so long as they are not in uniform and show no affiliation (though clothing, speech or location) with the military and the organization.

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Military Connection: DOD Bans Ice Bucket Challenge: By Debbie Gregory