Whenever I tell someone that I am in the Coast Guard the reaction is almost always the same… “Wow! Really?! Thats so cool! So what do you do??” Everyone is so egar to know what it is I do in the Coast Guard. Granted it sounds really cool. Saving lives, driving boats fast, carrying a gun, getting stationed in Miami, etc. Sounds amazing right?! Well, I am here to tell you it really is not all that it is cracked up to be.
The last time I was truly happy at work was, well, never. I mean I have been happy at work But never so over joyed that I haven’t thought about my next step. So if you follow me on snap chat you have seen my “day in a life of a coastie” stories. They seem so great and amazing. That is because I don’t want to have to explain the bull shit of the job. There is so much mundane stuff that I don’t ever want to think about it when I am off duty.
Let me start with maintenance. Last I checked I signed a contact saying that I would defend the Constitution of the United States. That translates to, “Here is your paint brush kid.” Literally. I reported to my unit during the sequestration period our government went through and I was told I wasn’t getting underway (out on the boats) anytime soon and it was my duty to paint the walls a horrific color… Antique White. Every time I go to work now I think of the extremely long nights I spent painting the walls of the station for my country…
And then there is being a high performer. We are marked every six months meaning we’re evaluated every six months. Employee review basically. So there are 24 things we are marked on, and it is on a scale of 1-7. Sevens are incredibly difficult to get supposedly. Well I got 15 seven’s the last marking period. When I tell people in the CG my marks, they are blown away; but I keep thinking to myself, “Why is it that surprising. All I do is show up everyday and care. It can’t be that hard.” Wait… What was that Uncle Doogs?? Did you say you care? Yes. I simply CARE. It is AMAZING how much I care compared to so many people I work with. Maybe that is why I have come to dislike the service I use to like so much. Maybe it is because of poor leadership. Who knows what or why.
I really did love the Coast Guard at one point. I saved over 100 lives last summer. Not many 20 something year olds can say they even saved one life in their lifetime never mind in one summer. Literally pulled 10 people out of the water on Fourth of July, four people when their sail boat sank, and ferried over 100 people off of a booze cruise that ran aground one summer night. The problem is I never really felt challenged. I felt a deeper connection to helping people when I was a volunteer firefighter for my home town. The reason being is that my job to save lives wasn’t an established priority. Maintenance was and has been and will be the priority; which to me is terribly saddening. We are supposed to operate! Not worry about a little bit of salt on a boat that’s in the ocean. Who would have thought?? There’s salt on a boat that’s in salt water?? Yup… and we get reamed out for salt on them. Its just so ass backwards.
We are there to protect, defend, save, and shield our nation. I’ll never forget Captain Kelly, now Admiral Kelly, saying those words at my boot camp graduation. I stood there, terrified, but proud! I was about to serve my country! Save it! Defend it! Protect it! And I have, but unfortunately it never felt like those were the priorities instilled in me after boot camp.
The Coast Guard in some ways is really broken. There are too many people looking for free rides and they are getting them. There are too many people not getting 6’s and 7’s that still get promoted or advanced. There are too many people who simply shouldn’t have the honor of serving this country that get the chance to. No wonder the Marine Corps laughs at us! We are pitiful. Worry about bottom paint on a boat, as opposed to training and making warriors for this nation. It really is a shame, because we use to have incredibly high standards, but now because we are so short-handed we are lowering those standards. The officer corps is incredibly short handed too. We are in a time of needing people, but we aren’t getting the right kind of people. It will be interesting to see where the service goes. For me, I think it will be time to move on come January.