Top 10 Things You Don't Know About the Coast Guard

Lt. Cmdr. Brendan Harris receives new shoulder boards from his children during a promotion ceremony June 21, 2018, at the Federal Law Enforcement Training in Charleston, South Carolina. (U.S. Coast Guard/Ryan Dickinson)
Lt. Cmdr. Brendan Harris receives new shoulder boards from his children during a promotion ceremony June 21, 2018, at the Federal Law Enforcement Training in Charleston, South Carolina. (U.S. Coast Guard/Ryan Dickinson)

I am a Coast Guard spouse. I live and breathe the Coast Guard. I know the unique and valuable service that the Coast Guard provides to our country. I hope that when you read this list, you are proud of who we are and what we do. I know I am.

1. The U.S. Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and the only military organization within the Department of Homeland Security. The military status of the Coast Guard is a much-talked-about and debated topic. The fact is, the U.S. Coast Guard proudly serves the United States of America as an Armed Force -- at all times, during times of peace and times of war.

2. We deploy. I have stood on a pier and waved good-bye 15 times. I know that as the cutter moves towards the horizon, I will have to pick up the children and walk away. In that moment, I know that I have the ability to make the difference. I comfort, I reassure, I stand strong. There are many families like mine. Coast Guard members deploy to multiple locations, for varying lengths of time. Many of our members deploy multiple times per year.

3. The Coast Guard was the first afloat armed force. Predating the Navy and most other federal government organizations, the origins of the Coast Guard date back to 1790. From our earliest days as the Revenue-Marine and the Revenue Cutter Service -- to today, as the United States Coast Guard, our service has always been Semper Paratus (Always Ready) to serve our Nation.

4.The Coast Guard has served in all of our nation's wars and conflicts. The Coast Guard has a long and distinguished history of service. Participating in the events that aided in the formation of our incredible nation, the Coast Guard's versatile, unique abilities have been invaluable to our country for over 220 years.

5. With about 41,000 active-duty men and women, we are only slightly larger than the NYPD. When compared to other branches of the military, we may be small in numbers, but the Coast Guard faithfully stands the watch and protects the 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline and beyond.

6. We serve all over the world. In addition to protecting the coastlines of the United States, our Members serve in Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, the Netherlands, the Arctic, the Antarctic, Bahrain ... and you'll even find us in Kansas.

7. The Coast Guard serves in multiple ways. The Coast Guard is an incredible multi-mission military organization and federal law enforcement agency. Our missions include: maritime security, drug interdiction, aid to navigation, search and rescue, preserving and protecting living marine resources, marine safety, defense, migrant interdiction, marine environment protection and ice operations. "We protect those on the sea, We protect America from threats delivered by Sea, and We protect the Sea itself." -- Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr. 24th Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard

8. The Coast Guard saves a lot of lives. Annually, our members respond to about 20,000 search and rescue cases and save about 4,000 lives.

9. We have an aging fleet. The Coast Guard fleet is one of the oldest maritime fleets in the world. My husband has served on four Coast Guard cutters. Those cutters were between 47 and 54-years-old. The Coast Guard is working hard to modernize it's fleet, but as we transition, the operational capabilities of our older assets is a direct reflection of the hard-working, talented members who maintain them.

10. Coast Guard families cannot access some of the resources that are available to other branches of the military. Have you heard of Military OneSource? MyCAA? Many of us have heard of them, but not all of us can use them. These Defense Department resources are not Coast Guard inclusive in most situations. Coast Guard members and families can receive support through the Coast Guard Office of Work-Life, CG SUPRT, and their ombudsman.

Rachel Conley is a proud U.S. Coast Guard spouse and the mother of two precious children. In addition to caring for her family, Rachel devotes her time to serving and supporting Coast Guard members and their loved ones.

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