I was raised on an Air Force base, and when my dad retired – I thought my military days were over. Then one day I met my (now) husband who is in the Coast Guard, and my entire perspective changed. After four years together, I have come to the realization that among all the military branches, the Coast Guard is one that’s most often forgotten.
Even for an Air Force brat like me, I didn’t know much about the Coast Guard before meeting my husband. Now, after being part of the community, I’ve learned that there’s a big need to educate others about the role the Coast Guard plays in the military community.
The Coast Guard: A Role Often Overlooked
Finding Coast Guard memorabilia is hard.
When I realized our relationship was serious and we were headed for marriage, I set out to get a Coast Guard ornament for my tree – this was surprisingly hard. I wanted to find the perfect item in a store – especially a local, handmade store. It took me several tries to find an ornament. I found other military ornaments, but they often left out the Coast Guard. The same is true when I come across other memorabilia – every branch is there but the Coast Guard. Coast Guard memorabilia does exist, it’s just a lot harder to find.
The Coast Guard is often left out.
The first time I realized how often the Coast Guard was left out of things, my husband and I were still dating. I was walking with a friend at a park built on an old base to recognize men and women who had served in the military. The American flag was flying high with four other flags representing the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. There wasn’t a flag for the Coast Guard. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if it wasn’t for my affiliation with the Coast Guard community. This seems to stem from us falling under Homeland Security instead of the Department of Defense.
When you say your husband is out to sea, people automatically assume he’s in the Navy.
My husband is deployed a lot – so much that I’ve lost count of the number of deployments we’ve had in the past three years. I’m used to it by now and I’m not complaining. However, it does get frustrating when I mention that he is deployed at sea and someone asks if he’s in the Navy. From my experience, people don’t realize that the Coast Guard protects more than just our coast or that they deploy just like every other branch of the military. Some members of the Coast Guard are even stationed overseas just like the other branches.
Some think that the Coast Guard is essentially a glorified lifeguard.
I have encountered many people who don’t know the Coast Guard is part of our military. I have even had a few people tell me they thought the Coast Guard was a step up from a lifeguard. Just like the National Guard that defends us at home, the Coast Guard has similar missions. While they do help with search and rescue missions, there is a lot more to their job than that.
We don’t always have support nearby.
One of the biggest things for me to get used to was the lack of support for the Coast Guard. Many units are nowhere near a bigger base and therefore aren’t offered the same programs as other branches. Sometimes the members and their families are disconnected from the military community. This can make it difficult to adjust to a new location when you don’t have a built in community to support you, as do the other branches.
Spouses of all 5 branches have one goal – to support our spouse and hold down the home front while they serve our country. We may be all be a bit different, but we are all making the same sacrifice for our country. Don’t know much about the Coast Guard? That’s okay, because I am making it my personal mission to teach those who may not know.
About The Guest Blogger…
Pam is a proud Coast Guard wife, and Air Force brat. She hopes to continue to educate others on the differences observed between the services. She and her husband blog together at The Coastie Couple.