Who knew it wasn't as easy as walking into your nearest recruiter's office and signing on a line to join the USCG? I have very limited experience with the recruitment process for the Coast Guard, as the man in blue was already in when I met him. Still, having been in another branch, I do recall my own process, but I assume that on some level each branch varies a little.
At any rate, I'm writing this tonight as my man in blue sits down with a soon-to-be Coast Guard family for the very first time to talk about his USCG experience and hopefully answer some questions they have. This particular family contacted my husband over six months ago, through a friend and former co-worker of mine. Their son has had a desire to join the Coast Guard but has hit several bumps along the way, which I don't know much about, but I know it wasn't an easy road.
FINALLY, he is scheduled to ship off to boot camp. His family asked my husband over to talk to him and finally meet. Much of their previous communication has been through email and phone. My husband had put the family in touch with a recruiter he knows months back, and the recruiter, of course, has been directly working on this. My husband, who is not a recruiter, was merely an unsuspecting liaison for the whole thing.
The family even said they owe my husband a debt of gratitude. He doesn't feel as though he has done much, but to them, just having some field their questions, talk about his job and experience and put him in touch with the right people and resources was enormously helpful--like a personal touch. Their son is fulfilling his dream and can't wait to ship out. We are so happy to hear that it's actually coming to fruition for them.
On a personal note, I'm so proud of my husband for taking the time to help these people, people he and I don't even know, except by mutual friends. He continuously shows me how much the Coast Guard means to him by aiding folks like this.
A not so happy story is about my aunt's stepson. He is graduating this month and started talking to my husband about joining the Coast Guard well over a year ago. It's his branch of choice, and all he has talked about. He even took a tour of one of the local bases, explored information on different rates and spoke to recruiters, with the man in blue. Unfortunately, after getting through some medical matters that didn't really exist and clearing that up, the USCG found one thing that they couldn't waive. He has pins due to a bicycle accident that tore up his ankle years back. Despite, the fact that this kid is a stellar soccer player and athlete; despite his clean record and youth, and despite his ability to function perfectly and having full range of motion, even with the pins, he cannot join the Coast Guard. He's beyond disappointed. My husband is too. Of course, it's not his fault and it's not the kid's fault. Sometimes there are just disqualifying factors you cannot get around. After all, the Coast Guard is highly selective.
On one hand it makes me feel as though it's too hard to join, but on the other, it's comforting to know that the Coast Guard screens so deeply and closely. We do want strong, healthy and uncompromised guardians, don't we?
GoCoastGuard explains that their approach is that of a "whole-person evaluation". They also state, "[w]e are a small military service with 38,000 active duty and 12,000 reserve personnel. The Coast Guard is not for everyone, and not everyone who wants to join may be qualified. We have high standards and are very selective with applicants we bring on board. In fiscal year 2009 (1 October 2008-30 September 2009), we are bringing on an approximate total of 5500 people." When you think about it, that's really not a lot of people.
Another family I am close to has a daughter who applied to the USCGA. Unfortunately, she wasn't accepted for this year, which shocked many, many people given her academic performance among many other terrific things about her. I'll not divulge too much because the community is small and someday she may be Commandant of the Coast Guard. In fact, I'd be surprised if she didn't make headlines in that respect. Not giving up on her dream, she decided to go to college and enlist in the USCG Reserves. She's on a mission and the Coast Guard is the life she has always wanted, even if she is not starting off in the way she had hoped.
These are just three summaries of so many enlistment/appointment stories out there. Obviously, it's not a piece of cake to join the Coast Guard. Not everyone gets in and not everyone gets what they want. Though, I can see why they Coast Guard is the world's elite sea service. They seek to recruit and appoint the best of the best.