Life in the Coast Guard

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by kevster, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. kevster

    kevster Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Im trying to compare and contrast all the services. One of Particular intrest to me is the Coast Guard. Having been the son of a pilot in the Air Force for my whole life (18yrs) Im wondering if the "lifestyle" is the same or similar? For instance do people in the CG get deployed? How long are people out at sea? My particular question would be directed to Coast Guard pilots but any information will be useful. I want to serve my country but I would also like to have a family and put as little stress on them as possible. (Members of the other branches please feel free and leave your thoughts as well).

    Thanks Everyone!
    - Kevster
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    As an airdale, it is not likely that you will be underway for an extended period of time.

    On a ship, it really depends on the size. I was on a 210' (smallest flight deck of any military ship, the LSO wants to eat rotor blades). We would typically head out for about 1.5 to 2 months at a time, with a few port calls in there. A 270' might go out for 2 to 2.5 months, a 378' for 3-4 months and a polar roller (or Healy) for about 6 months or so. You can be deployed, however, the spots going to the Gulf are pretty competitive.

    Life in the Coast Guard isn't bad. If you like doing a thankless job with little attention from the world day in and day out, then you will love this. If you're not looking for respect from sister services, then this is a good branch for you. The service is small, and great at what it does. You will work with some of the greatest people ever (all the services can say something to that effect). You will be a jack of all trades, but a master of none (sometimes). You will have a good deal of responsibility early in your career. I work on a joint program that has me, an O-2 working with Air Force O-3, Navy O-4, Army O-5, and Marine Corps O-5....and that is basically the norm.

    It's thankless. It's ignored. It is a must.

    I would do it all over again in a second and I am proud to work with the people I do.
     
  3. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Also...remind the folks how EARLY you "Coasties" get to command positions! My roommate from Northwestern Prep was the "Captain" of a...I'm going to get this wrong, 82 footer??? in the Caribbean when he was a Lt JG or brand new LT...

    In MY world (USAF) the command comes MUCH later!!!

    He had a great 20+ year career!!!
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Yes, 82' sounds about right. A "Point class", they were replaced with 87'....commanded by Senior Chiefs (E-8) and LTJGs (O-2)......110' cutters are commanded by CWO (not many, but there are a couple) and LT (O-3), 140' are commanded by LTs (and a couple have LCDRs (O-4) because of an extra barge piece).
     
  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Okay...so my memory isn't that off! :smile:

    I remember when he told me: "Steve...damn...I'm the "old man" on an 82' vessel...and we're going to sea!!!!"

    After I quit laughing I realized: he was doing something that I, if LUCKY, would get to do when I was a Lt Col...in about 15 more years!!!!

    Todd was WAAAAY ahead of me.

    VERY impressive!!!

    The Coasties require a LOT from their people...and they do a fine job! :thumb:
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Thanks flieger...I'm starting to like this thread a lot....:biggrin::wink:
     
  7. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Hey...I'm a "black and white" kind of guy.

    I spent two years trying...and I was finally accepted to:

    USMA
    USAFA
    USNA
    USMMA

    all to their classes of 1983...but to USCGA...

    I was an "alternate" to the class of 1983.

    Todd "Toad" Gentile...USCGA Class of 1983...applied to ONE place: USCGA. And he did GREAT!

    The USCGA is a SMALL service...and they set the bar VERY high for their NCO's and officers.

    Yeah, I respect the hell outta him. A great guy, and a fine military officer!

    Steve
    NWPS Class of 1978/79
    USAFA '83
     
  8. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Active duty USCG is around 38,000 men & women, smaller than the New York City Police Department (around 40,000).
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Luigi you have motivated me to post some numbers!


    Workforce Totals:

    Civilian: 7,396
    Officers: 8,051
    Enlisted: 32,647

    Reserves:
    Select: 7,992
    Indiv. Ready Res.: 2,795

    Active Duty Workforce:
    Male: 87.8%
    Female: 12.2%

    Average Ages:
    Officers: 37
    Enlisted: 29

    Average Time in Service:
    Officers: 14.5 years
    Enlisted: 7.8 years

    Commissioning Sources:
    USCGA: 45%
    CWO to LT: 5%
    OCS Prior Enlisted: 13%
    OCS Reserve: 20%
    Direct Commission: 14%
    EAD: 3%

    The FY2008 budget was $9,044,417,000.00

    So, there you go, some fun random numbers. That snap shot is available with much more information at www.uscg.mil.
     
  10. Gen2

    Gen2 Member

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    I'll address the "stress on the family" from the spouse's point of view:

    Supporting a spouse in the military is very similar to our civilian counterparts in the medical and emergency response arenas. It's not a 9-5 job that you have alot of control over.

    I had my education and professional certifications. I did not have the career I planned because that involves building time with an established business and then going out and building up my own clients. It's also nearly impossible to move my state certifications each move to fully realize my income potential. None of this is possible when you move every 2-4 years.

    Instead I have worked in a variety of fields for some incredible people. My career became a job that produced some income, that took me out into my new community, that exposed me to new industries and ideas. I have a patchwork of experiences I never would have had with the traditional career path in my field.

    I have been alone many holidays. Alone. After children, we celebrated many holidays, birthdays, concerts, school programs, awards without Dad. We missed him during those special times and he missed us. We missed many Christmas celebrations at Grandma's house, baptisms of cousins, weddings, funerals, Mother's Day brunches, etc.

    Instead of always being together on a Hallmark holiday, we learned to make our own days special. To give a card or a gift when it was least expected and greatly appreciated because it wasn't on the calendar. We celebrated many holidays together without the stress of extended families. We started our own traditions.

    I have lived in some great places and some pretty crappy places. I've lived in alot of places I never would have selected and loved it. I have lived in places we selected and couldn't pack fast enough when it was time to leave.

    I have learned to appreciate many cultures and areas of our great country. I have the opportunity to live where others vacation. My kids have the chance to see many things their peers only read about in history books.

    I have to make new friends in each location. I have left behind best of friends. But I also have lifelong friends in almost every part of the country. Our paths manage to cross every now and then.

    Bottom line: It's very stressful being a military spouse. It's frustrating to have so many areas of your life beyond your control. But on the other hand we have enjoyed guaranteed income, great health care benefits, and a great retirement system. The positives are much, much greater than the negatives.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    To add some "numbers" to the spouse post, 37% of Coast Guard officers are married, and 29% of the Coast Guard enlisted workforces are married.
     
  12. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Here is the 87'er USCG Cutter Cormorant in Ft. Pierce, FL. They are a town away from us and they let us tour with out NJROTC unit last year. All the cadets received their Sea Cruise ribbons for being on a ship underway.
    Great Station, they always help us out and our Sea Scouts Ship is located next door to them also, real convenient.

    http://images.google.com/imgres?img...a.&gbv=2&hl=en&sa=G&ei=8Mn9Sf-zEJ7htgeMvI3HCg
     
  13. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I'm sure they appreciate being able to interact with the Sea Cadets, and help out any way they can.
     
  14. futureplebe

    futureplebe Member

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    Ok, I'll post the kids point of view.


    My dad was in the Coast Guard for 20+ years and now he is retired and is working as a civilian for them.

    Personally, I loved being a Coastie "brat". I've lived in all sorts of cool places, I've lived on a base before, been to many other military bases, and gotten other special privileges(Steinbrenner used to let anyone with a military ID in for free at a Yankees game. I'm not sure if he still does it, but that was really nice of him).

    Yeah, my dad is kind of gone a lot on trips, and was on a ship, but that was way before I was born. But he has never been deployed for multiple months and probably never will be as a civilian now.

    Moving can take its toll on a family, no doubt, and the military movers aren't exactly the greatest, but I personally loved it. My internal clock is screaming at me, "Why aren't we moving?!?!"; I miss moving around a lot. It seems like a lot of military families feel the opposite way about this, but maybe this is why I plan on joining the Coast Guard or Navy when I'm older.

    One nice thing about being in the CG, depending on your job, you can probably bring your kids along with you. I'm not sure if you can do this in other branches, but I enjoy going with my dad. Of course if my dad was working on something top secret stuff he(and the government) wouldn't want me tagging along, but he isn't in that line of work and it's usually for a safety drill or to check out some new boats.
    Hell, sometimes we even planned family vacations around his work:biggrin:

    Base life was pretty cool, you met a lot of different people who were going through the same thing you are. The MWR usually had things for people of all ages to do and our base had a galley, and I looked forward to Saturday breakfasts there. :smile:

    Quality of life is very good, and you will basically always be stationed by the water, which is a huge plus for me.



    Overall, I loved having a dad who was active duty and seeing different parts of the country. I'd like to become a pilot too, but I'd be just as happy as a Coast Guard officer with a different job.
     
  15. kevster

    kevster Member

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    Haha I couldnt agree more with the part about the military movers! Nothing quite like a bunch of furniture and boxes in random places around the house! :)
     
  16. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014

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    Im right there with you futureplebe. Im an Air Force brat, both of my parents are were in the Air force for 23 years and retired within months of one another. I have lived in the same place for ten years now and even though I was seven when we last moved to where we are now, my internal clock is still set on the "move every 3 to 4 years" track. I guess that was another appeal of the military life for me, I miss it, even though my parents were both hired by the Air Force to work for them as civillians. Its not really the same.
     
  17. Eagle

    Eagle Member

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    after graduation liberty

    Hey,
    LITS, how long after graduation do the Ensigns have before they report to their first duty? Do they all get about the same??
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    30 days, unless a unit needs them to report sooner (don't happen all that often). If that does happen, they can take the difference later.

    Expect 30 days though (as is owed to you).
     
  19. CGAVol

    CGAVol New Member

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    You forgot to mention the 30,000+ members of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. We augment the Coast Guard in every activity except LE and actual Military missions.
     
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    And we should never forget the best volunteer organization, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a valued member of the Coast Guard family. :thumb:
     

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