Coast Guard spouses often feel neglected in the military community. The Coast Guard is frequently left out of things and forgotten about. We spend a good portion of our lives defending the Coast Guard and what they do. There is a part of us that wants to shout from the rooftops that we are here, too! But, most of the time, we silently support our spouses and their service.
With the help of a few fellow Coast Guard spouses, I put together a list of things to shine a little light on our side of the service.
1. We are military spouses, too
It is a common misconception that the Coast Guard is not military. However, 14 U.S. Code S.1 states differently. It was established in 1915 that the Coast Guard would be a branch of the U.S. military. The biggest confusion for many people is the fact that the Coast Guard does not fall under the umbrella of the Department of Defense like the other military branches. It falls under the Department of Homeland Security. However, this does not diminish its status as military; Coast Guard personnel still take the same oath and sign the same papers as anyone in any other branch.
2. Our spouses deploy
Our spouses deploy on cutters from two to six months. There are several different units deployed to the Persian Gulf. The Coast Guard’s Patrol Forces Southwest Asia are trained for defense readiness and spend their deployments in the Middle East.
3. Coast Guard has unique missions
The Coast Guard is much more than Search and Rescue. In fact, service members of the Coast Guard perform 11 different missions every single day. The missions include port and waterway security, drug interdiction, aids to navigation, living marine resources, marine safety, defense readiness, migrant interdiction, marine environmental protection, ice operations, law enforcement, and, of course, search and rescue.
4. Coast Guard has a long history of serving the U.S.
Many people do not realize that the Coast Guard is the oldest continuous seagoing service in the U.S. The service of the Coast Guard dates back to 1790, and they have been a part of every major conflict in U.S. history since the War of 1812. The Coast Guard was originally established as two separate services: the Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S Lighthouse Service. In 1915, the two services were combined to form what we know today as the U.S. Coast Guard.
5. More than just one type of Coastie
When disasters happen, like Hurricane Katrina, the media is filled with images of Coast Guard helicopters and those that serve on them. That is one type of coastie, but there are so many more that don’t get the same media attention. Coast Guard aviators fly either helicopters or C-130s. Coasties serve on boats ranging in size from 420 foot icebreakers to 15 foot skiffs. They serve on land in many different facets. The Coast Guard is much more than what the media portrays them as, and each type of job is just as important as the next.
6. We get stationed in uncommon areas
The Coast Guard has units worldwide. However, the majority of families will find themselves somewhere within the United States. We can be stationed in big cities like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Families also get stationed in small coastal areas, like the Pacific Northwest or New England. We can also be stationed in remote areas, like Alaska. Each area is unique, poses its own challenges and brings its own magic to our lives.
7. We move as much or more than other branches
Coast Guard families are rarely in one place for very long. Typically, we are in one location for no more than four years and then we are on to the next place. There are many times we are in an area for no more than two or three years. It can feel like we are constantly moving, and always having to learn a new area and make new friends.
8. We don’t have access to the same perks
Due to the unique needs of the Coast Guard, the locations of their units are rarely near a military base. Coast Guard families often do not have access to benefits like the commissary, exchanges and clinics that are found on the bigger bases. This means that our cost of living tends to run higher because we have to find a home to rent or buy as base housing is not available to us. As a result, we pay higher prices for groceries and other fundamentals. There are even resources available to other branches that don’t include Coast Guard families, that can include health benefits to scholarship programs.
9. It is difficult to find work
When you move every few years, it is very difficult to establish yourself in a career of any kind. There are those that make it work, and they live their dreams of having the career they want. More often than not, though, Coast Guard spouses end up working from home or not working at all. This is, in part, due to transferring regularly. It is also due to the cost of childcare, and the fact that we often end up in areas where there are not a lot of jobs available to us. We even run into a certain amount of discrimination from employers because we are military spouses.
Despite it all, we are strong and we are resilient.
The reality is, this life brings many stresses and hardships. But, we weather through it because we love our spouses, and that is just what you do. We also love this life more than anyone could ever understand. There are many of us that have furthered our educations and pursued our dream careers even while living the Coast Guard life. We weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.Read comments