1. We are small, but we are mighty
I love that quote from Margaret Mead that says “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
The Coast Guard is proof of that.
It is about the size of the New York Police Department, and when I think of what it accomplishes with so few, I am always amazed. I can’t think of a better lesson for my kids than to tell them that one person really CAN make a difference.
2. Mastering hurricane preparedness
Coast Guard spouses are experts at preparing for hurricanes and other natural disasters – alone. Our Coasties have to leave us to get ready to respond, so we take Semper Paratus seriously. Look in our garages and you will find the tarps and bottles of water, even if we live in land-locked locations.
When we look for homes, we check for the hurricane shutters right away and figure out if we can put them up ourselves.
3. Three degrees of separation
I can probably find a connection to a Coast Guard spouse within three degrees of separation. When we get to new duty stations, we try to figure out how we are all connected to each other, and invariably, we can figure out a mutual friend.
So we all feel like we know each other. However, a word of warning, that is not always a perk.
If you plan to drink too much and dance on a table at the next gala, then we will ALL know you.
4. Reorganizing your house every two to three years
I know how much the crap in my house weighs. All of it. And I am always trying to put my household goods on a diet.
This has become increasingly difficult with kids, but I am persistent. There is nothing like an impending PCS Move to force you to re-evaluate the importance of your belongings.
COAST Guard, get it? We are always near water. Well, there are a few who are not, but the majority of us can drive to a beach from home.
That beach may be absolutely freezing (thinking of you, Kodiak!), but it’s a beach, no less.
6. Your house will nearly fall apart during a deployment
Something WILL happen, you can count on it.
A snake will slither up in your air conditioning unit, causing it to clog up and stop working (you don’t even want to know how I know this.).
Your dishwasher will flood your kitchen, causing you to have to replace the flooring.
Your oven will stop working right before your in-laws come to visit.
Why is this a perk, you wonder? It makes us that much more confident and self-sufficient when we solve the problem alone. Granted, we are raving lunatics while it is actually happening, but when we find out way to the solution, we are rock stars.
7. Knowing our civilian community
We rarely have base housing, so we are often the only Coast Guard family on the block. Our kids may be the only military kids in school.
We spend a lot of time explaining our lives to our civilian neighbors. In fact, most every kids’ birthday party I have ever attended has involved me telling someone what our life is like. Weirdly, this doesn’t get old, because it’s nice to know the community is interested in us, supportive of us.
When a helicopter went down in my community a few months after I had moved to a new duty station, my civilian friends and neighbors were the first to reach out to my husband and I to share in our grief.
That community buried the front gate of Coast Guard station in flowers because they saw the lost flight crew as their own. That community surrounded us with love in our darkest hour.
8. The Coast Guard saves people. Every day
On an average day, the Coast Guard goes on more than 100 search missions, helps almost 200 people in distress and saves 10 people.
Watching your husband or wife on the news as they fly the helicopter that hovers over a rescue, or as they dangle from the hoist to collect up a survivor — the heart-pounding depth of pride is unequalled.
Knowing that when they start every day, they will more than likely make a positive difference in someone’s life is a perk LIKE NO OTHER.
9. Our kids take water safety seriously
You haven’t seen safe kids until you see Coastie kids at the community pool. They divvy up buddies, no matter how many kids there are.
They count and recount each other.
They know too much about the perils of the water not to be vigilant. Tell your kids when they are swimming with friends to buddy with the Coast Guard kid.
10. Calling yourself a Coastie
Whether you are the service member or the family member, we are all part of the Coastie life. When we watch the bright orange MH-65 helicopter whir overhead, an HC-144 plane take off for patrol, or a Cutter glide through the water, we know that our own are onboard.
We don’t take the “our own” part of that lightly. We are part of a close-knit family that has to depend on one another, and we do.
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