My Life, My Honor: The Life of a Coast Guard Wife

Photo Credit: Mandy Baker

Photo Credit: Mandy Baker

Many people think that the life of the Coast Guard wife is easy. In fact, wives from other branches of the military even look down on us. They think that we have it easier than they do. Most of their husbands are deployed overseas for a year or more at a time. Their husbands are in a war zone every day and they worry about them all the time. Many of them do not even consider Coast Guard wives as fellow military spouses, because our life is so different from those of other branches.

The Coast Guard is different. Our lives are different from theirs at times. It is run differently and we have different missions from the other branches. However, our lives are not as different as people think they are. Sure, if our husbands head out to serve in the Middle East, they volunteered for it. But, if they go, they are gone for a year just like the others who are sent over. They may be protecting the shorelines when they get there, but they are still in danger all the time; just like the others are.

A common misconception about the Coast Guard life is that our husbands are always home. The past ten plus years of my life says something very different about that. Are the members of the Coast Guard stateside most of the time? Yes, they are. That does not mean they’re home. The Coast Guard has Cutters that deploy for two or three months at time. They have others that are out for six months at time. Even on land based units, their duty schedules often keep them away from home. Many weeks we are lucky to see them two days out of the seven.

The biggest difference in our lives compared to other military wives, is the “enemy.” Most of the other branches are deployed to fight a physical enemy; one they can see and know how to fight. For the Coast Guard, their most common “enemy” is Mother Nature. How can you fight Mother Nature? The short answer is you cannot. Their job is to go out in seas and weather that other people are encouraged to stay home during. In much the same way a firefighter will run into a burning building that others are running out of, the Coast Guard goes out into storms that others seek shelter from.

The Coast Guard is not a combat oriented service. They are a lifesaving service. They have many missions, but their main one is to save lives. As the spouse of a Coastie, we may not have to worry about them being blown up by an IED or shot by a sniper, we still worry though. We have to force ourselves not to worry most of the time. They cannot control the winds or the seas and neither can we. We know that when the call comes, they will respond even if Mother Nature is pushing them back. It is the unconquerable  enemy.

We may have different concerns and worries, but we still have them. We still get out of bed every day and live our lives. We go about our day to day activities and try not to think about what our husbands are doing when they put on their uniforms and walk out the front door.  As Coast Guard wives we are proud of the differences, but military spouses are all the same in the end. We all get lonely, we all worry.

Some days the simple act of them putting that uniform on can be heart breaking. We have all had to fight back the tears as they lace up their boots. We have all had to smile so they will not see our pain. We have all had to be strong at times it seems impossible to be. We all have the same ultimate goal, support our husbands and hold down the home front while they do what they serve our country. We may be different, but deep down we all struggle and sacrifice in the same way.

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Comments

  1. Carol Grant says:

    This is so very true, in the end, Military wives are faced with the same battles every day, just with different circumstances. This was very well written and should gain the respect of all who are in the Military. I commend you on staying strong, loyal and loving, as a Coastie Wife.

  2. Anita Louise Drennon says:

    Very well said. I want to share this with my fellow police wives as this applies to us and I couldn't have said it better myself. Every time my husband straps on a gun I pray he returns home safely. I know he sees and handles things he won't tell me because they are too horrific. His enemy is his fellow citizens.

  3. Janada Shepard says:

    Well this got me all choked up. I don't understand where people get the idea that they are better than others. We all have our purpose, we all live together, and not one of us can do it by our self. and bottom line.. no one would want to.

  4. Christie Colvin says:

    Excellent! Thank you for speaking up! I have been vexed for years by the igonorance of those that claim the CG isn’t a branch of the military! Yes, there is a totally different scope of job for Coasties…….but they are out there day in and day out defending in some capacity.

    The misnomer that Coastie wives and families have it easier is a HUGE FARCE! I think sometimes it’s harder to be a Coastie wife/child. Those branches of service that leave for 1 year deployments face the agony of the deployment once (maybe twice) in a year. OMG – how many times did my husband get underway during a year? Yes, they may not have been gone but a few weeks at a time……but that mental toll of them leaving was awful! We finally figured out just to drop him off at the pier rather than face the agony. We were always there for the homecomings though! LOL! After he came home though……well most of us know those adjustments were trying!

    We are a different branch……..but we most certainly are military.

  5. Crystal Feather says:

    not to mention the coasties who go out there on missions to get rid of drugs or illegal immigrants so dangerous, like you touched on mother nature, and at life saving units people who boat unwisely making our cg men and women go in to save them even when mother nature hasn't acted up, and it is frustrating people thinking just because their loved ones deploys for 1 straight yr etc its worse I wouldn't choose one over the other they are both equallyy horrible if I had to choose what I wanted my husband to do it wouldn't be either, he was schedule for a 9 month deployment on his cutter that was cancelled we were so happy only to have him dry docked 5 hrs away from home and we are lucky if we've seen him 1 or 2nights a month and next year his cutter will be dry docked for a yr in the same place its the luck of the draw with the cg on cutters as it is with army etc on there deployment over seas some go and some don't takes a strong person to live this lifestyle

  6. Tara Graff says:

    Very well said.

  7. Elaine Sawyer says:

    This is an Awesome Article and well written. Is tells us what Coast Guard Families goes through each and everyday. The four branches are the same with different missions for each of them. They serve and protect the United States Of America. We all should be very Proud and very Thankful of our Service Men and Service Women. They all do a fine job and go way be on what is require of them. God Bless Them and the United States on America. Thank You for your Service to our country.

  8. Mona Hatfield says:

    I concur with the other replies, this article is very nicely written. What alot of people don’t understand is really what “underway” means. I invite folks to schedule an overnight on the USCGC TANEY (a floating museum) in the Baltimore Harbor to get a feel of what it’s like. I’ve also seen pictures of what is suppose to be a boat, covered by ice that our personnel have to make rounds outside on. Nothing easy about that job. Oh, and when mother nature does rear her head and a storm is brewing, the Coastie must leave his family to be on their own while they take to boat out to sea to keep it safe. Nothing easy about being married to the Coast Guard.

  9. How true How true. My husband just retired from the Coast Guard after 35 years of service and let me tell you there were times when he would get ready to leave and tell me goodbye but he could not tell me where they were going or when they would be back. I just had to watch the news for anything about the cutter. Then spend nights worrying and waiting for news of when they will return. But you know what I would do it all over in a heart beat! I love being a Coast Guard Wife. Semper Paratus!

  10. lLike this

  11. This is so true!! Often I get upset with the fact that rarely does the men and women serving in the Coast Guard get mentioned when they speak of the military heroes that are serving rarely do the media an other news forums mention the difficulties that the wives of Coasties face and worse rarely do they feature or educate people on the work the Coast Guard does and the sacrifices those men and women make to keep safe those people that find themselves in need of help out on our waters not to mention the other day to day work they do for our country's citizens. I feel it's often the most thankless branch of the military and I find that to be very sad

  12. Lissie Clendenin says:

    Cannot agree more! Well said! I have been married for 12 years and have moved 7 times. We are lucky if we see him at night because of the long hours and multiple responsibilities. We are proud to be a Coast Guard family! Serving, protecting and saving those at home and abroad.

  13. Manuela Kutzer says:

    Thank you, Scott, Lissie and Sophia!!!

  14. Colleen Cagle says:

    I am so proud of my big brother and his family!!!!!!

  15. Karen Hewes says:

    This is directed toward the men that serve, but we are starting to see more and more women. Thank you to all of our husbands that support us and manage our family!

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