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Why actuve duty or reserves or retirees should join Aux.
Last Post 16 Feb 2016 09:01 AM by wadestinson. 17 Replies.
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VicNaz1User is Offline
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VicNaz1

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21 Jul 2011 12:30 PM
    So what can YOU get out of the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary?

    In 4 1/2 years in the Coast Guard Auxiliary I've noticed that most active duty folks have very little interface with the auxiliary. It seems that reservists have even less opportunity to get to know their aux. counterparts. I've been lucky in that between my training to serve on the 41 at Station Annapolis (now at Station St. Inigoes) and my operational missions in aux. air I've been luckier than most with my opportunities to get-to-know CG personnel.

    I know that some of you guys at stations might have an aux. who serves as a comms watchstander or even a particularly gung-ho aux. who's certified to go out on boats. There's even some aux. serving as FS at some stations and on some cutters. At HQ down here in Washington DC there's sometimes Aux. pulling duty. Some air station guys may even sometimes interface with the Aux. Air flotillas doing RWAI.

    Aside from that though, my experience is that the active duty & reserves don't have all that much opportunity to get to know the 30 thousand folks (give or take) in the auxiliary. That's a loss. It means that many who might actually get an extra boost to their CG experience by working with or joining the aux. never even think about it.

    I'll try to put together one topic a week and write it up here. I'll also try to answer any questions when I can.

    I'll seed the discussion with my first point about cross training. Are there any of you in the active duty or reserves at a small boat station that REALLY want to get up in the air? Did you ever want to really see what your AOR looks like as a BIG PICTURE? As an MK you spend more time with your eyes glued to some part of a Cummins VT-903M or the lower unit of a Honda outboard than you do scanning the horizon? Well, the auxiliary has an aviation side and YOU could get trained up as air crew or even become a pilot and fly missions under orders.

    Don't get me wrong, I understand that each and every one of you in the reserves or on active duty is giving a hell of a lot already. I've seen what the duty cycle is like at a station. This is about doing something you really want to do. There's lots of opportunity. More later.
    TonypizzoUser is Offline
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    23 Jul 2011 04:42 PM
    My question is. I've signed up for the AUX here in Michigan and I wonder what I'm really goingto get out of it. I was a firefighter and now I stepped away from that. I would like to get involved I. The search and rescue part along with the air side of the coastguard. What am I really going to be able to be allowed to do as a AUX or am I just going to be looked down on and stuck sweeping floors at a station while everyone else is out doing real costguard work?
    VicNaz1User is Offline
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    25 Jul 2011 10:34 AM
    Well, regardless of your previous status as a civilian fireman or CG active duty or park ranger, the bottom line is there is pretty much nothing you cannot do as an Aux. EXCEPT deputized law enforcement and shooting combat. You will not be stuck sweeping floors unless a) it really needs doing, b) you are OK with doing it and c) you get qualified to operate the equipment involved. OK I'm sure there's no PQS for using a broom but the fact of the matter is that you MIGHT end up sweeping a floor but only in as much as it might be exactly what any other station crew member would do in the same situation.

    As an example, this past Friday (super hot up here in the DC area I can tell you) I was down at Station St. Inigoes for my first trip to meet the new senior chief OIC. As it turns out we went out to practice boat handling and get some on-the-water time in the 41' UTB. It wasn't the most exciting duty in the world but it was worthwhile and it was exactly what the other 5 new guys (all active duty) were doing. I didn't get special treatment as an aux. and I was glad to be working the boat like any other new station personnel. Later in the day a 25' RB-S went out and I couldn't go on that mission but that's because I'm not certified on the 25 and also because it was LE stuff with the crew all wearing body armor and side arms. I would not have been an appropriate member of that crew. No biggie. I do what I'm qualified for and go when I'm allowed to go.

    This all depends on 2 things, you're level of commitment (gung ho is good) and the latitude allowed by the station OIC or commanding officer. Aside from LE and bang-bang stuff, there's nothing you can't do so long as the OIC is OK with it. If the OIC says no, that's the way it is but that's because he's the authority and he has good reasons, not because he looks down on Aux. or because Aux. aren't allowed.

    This translates to any active duty, reservist or retired CG personnel also. If you're on active duty doing clerical work and you really want on-the-water time, it's entirely possible t join the Aux. and then "attach" yourself to a local small boat station and get trained up (if the OIC is OK with it). Within the Aux. you can also get trained up for non-water duties. A reservist who's doing lots of "boats" but really wants to take photos can join the Aux. and then attend the Public Affairs training and get certified to go on photo shoots. REALLY! There's one guy in my Aux. unit who's got more time in the Helo's than I do because he went to the PA classes and got certified to go out and shoot the photos. He's also proven himself by being motivated to both get trained and also go looking for assignments. He's a fun guy too so the air station guys are happy to take him up (with permission and following the regs.). I know that active duty and reservists also have channels to go through and can usually get training, even out-of-the-ordinary training but going through the Aux. is sometimes much easier.

    Remember, Aux. stuff is on your own time and dime. My regular job (plus being a newlywed) eats up much of my life but every minute I've found to commit to the Aux. has been positive.
    VicNaz1User is Offline
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    08 Aug 2011 01:58 PM
    Ok, here's another reason why some of you guys drawing a Coast Guard pay check (or retirement check) might want to consider the Aux. - Fellowship.
    Yes, I know it sounds like something out of a church retreat or a 12 step program but there's an angle to it.

    You get to hang out with and learn from folks who are from different branches and grades than yourself. Petty officers, you may learn from and rub elbows with Air Force officers and Marine Corps warrants in a low stress, no BS atmosphere. Really, you can be a lowly seaman and go out on a on-the-water patrol with a retired 2 star and really LEARN things. You could be an active duty Lt. Commander who's mostly served on cutters and serve alongside a former Army E-7 tank driver who's got loads of experience to share and you can share back. Myself I have personally flown as air crew on a mission one day with a former navy commander who was a carrier flight instructor and the very next day served on a on-the-water patrol with a retired admiral and 3 days later attended a meeting with currently serving Army pilot and a WWII blimp crewman.

    If you're enlisted and want to learn a few of the mysteries of Officer-ness, this is the chance to work with them in a one-on-one environment. If you're career Coast Guard and would like to know what it takes to interact with Army or Air Force (or even foreign-born Americans) the Aux. will give you the opportunity in a structured, low pressure environment. I have found that this has really improved my ability to perform liaison duties in my "day" job at the FAA and I suspect these things can come in handy in many walks of life.
    VicNaz1User is Offline
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    31 Aug 2011 12:47 PM
    You want to work with people.

    Working as an active duty or reserve enlisted or officer, you may very well spend all of your time in uniform helping the people of the United States without ever meeting a single one (who's not in trouble) while on duty in uniform. You may very well spend 65 hours a week in uniform each week but only shake the hand of run-of-the-mill citizen once in a blue moon. If you're at a small boat station you might get the chance to meet a civilian while in uniform from time to time and get a chance to hear them say, "thank you" but as often as not you may only meet civilians who've had one-too-many and regard you as trouble. If you’re working in an administrative shore facility or on a cutter you may not meet civilians much at all. If you're retired CG you may have gone your whole career and not gotten hardly any chance to interact with the public much.

    As an Aux. you get to interact with the public. Not only do Aux. have the opportunity to attend Public Affairs training but there's a huge plethora of other meet-the-public duties from Boat Inspections to PFD usage demonstrations to driving Costie the remote controlled car/boat/mascot. Program Visitors go to local businesses and marinas and meet with owners and operators.

    An almost any event I attend in uniform I answer questions on basic seamanship and what to expect from the Coast Guard. I am also a Coast Guard Academy partner I set up at college fairs and I get to meet and talk to lots of teenage kids with the potential to be a CG officer and maybe, some day become the Commandant. It’s actually kind of fun.

    It’s not a free ride. Sometimes you run into folks who think your uniform makes you some kind of servant. Some folks just don’t like military. My Flotilla Commander (a prior service officer) even got chewed out for smoking in his flight suit outdoors at a small airfield. He was in a safe area and smoking was permitted but the woman who complained simply didn’t like ANYONE smoking near the door she was using (especially in uniform). She actually took the trouble to get his name and make a complaint that went up the chain and back down again. Aux. need to be on their toes while in uniform and in public. The upside of interacting with the public and getting a lot of warm-fuzzy is balanced by the potential of someone causing you a hard time.

    All in all though, It’s a major plus. Getting the chance to promote the Coast Guard, answer questions and give people help with the basics of good boating and seamanship just feels good. Having the opportunity to hear someone say, “Thanks for serving” is very special and I know I get to hear it a little more often as an Aux. than many of my active duty teammates. Having a little girl try to hug you around her newly fitted, bulky, orange PFD is really cool.
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    13 Sep 2011 03:05 PM
    Helping the Aux. guys get it right

    You've seen the Aux. folks doing their patrols and stopping at the Exchange and maybe even at an event (training or otherwise) at Curtis Bay or Yorktown or Petaluma or Mobile. You shake your head at someone wearing boat shoes with their ODU's (permitted for boat inspections) or wearing their tropical blue long with both collar tabs and shoulder boards and shirt pockets unbuttoned (no no).

    Have you ever thought to yourself that these guys need some help? Well, you're right. Leadership within the Aux. is both top down AND side to side. Members are not necessarily former service so in many cases they might not even know how to do a really proper salute or press a military crease in their shirts. In most cases a member is supposed to "look it up" or "pass your question up the chain of leadership" but that can be very cumbersome for a simple issue like correctly rolling up the sleeves on the ODU blouse. Just showing up at an Aux. meeting or going out on a very few patrols to set an example of how to behave can go a long way towards making the Aux. a better aid to the active duty.

    If you're active duty or reserves, you're already giving a lot, a hell of a lot. If you happen to live near an Aux. unit AND you have an hour to spare, you could arrange to stop bye. Even if you don't join, you can be an extremely positive influence by setting some misconceptions straight or just looking good. If you're a retiree you can be the very best mentor that anyone could ever have in an Aux. unit. Even those Aux. with prior service in another branch of the armed forces will benefit from the presence of a current duty or retired coastgardsman simply by knowing the Coast Guard way of doing things.

    Anyway, if you've ever heard a door with a squeak or seen a picture hanging wrong and wanted very much to set it right, you're the kind of person I'm talking about. If you're too busy, that's fine. If you happen to have a little more to give, how about thinking about uplifting a few Aux. and giving a little boost to that force multiplier concept.
    kstevensUser is Offline
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    13 Sep 2011 04:43 PM
    I am joining the Aux . My first meeting / enrollment is this Thursday night Flotilla 58 in Boston, Mass
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    14 Sep 2011 07:35 AM
    all i can say is WOW!!! i am amazed by the level of knowledge here.

    i am curious though, being in a state that is mostly land locked......as in ne indiana. i have yet to attend my first flotilla meeting which is at the end of the month. i am anxious to get more involved and understand more of how all of this works. it seems as though our flotilla isn't as "involved" as perhaps it could be? so any general direction or thoughts you could offer would be fantastic.
    ~Jen~
    VicNaz1User is Offline
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    28 Sep 2011 12:56 PM
    Hi kstevens and jen899193,
    As to Boston, you've got a lot of Aux. there and you'll have LOTS of opportunity to train, learn and contribute. I highly recommend that you get Aux. crew certified in time for next summer (which means you should do a lot of studying and getting to know your mentor.

    For land-locked folks, you're looking at lots of rivers and lakes. In fact, you people over in places like Indiana have Great Lakes to work on. Don't ever let the salt water guys get on your case. Fresh water missions on the lakes and rivers of this nation (especially commercially vital ones like the Great Lakes) are seriously important. The fact that the active duty Coast Guard is spread so thin working the oceans, gulf and major rivers, that means the Aux. has even more work and is even more important in fresh water areas.

    Of course, both of you should pay close attention to your FC and VFC and get with your training officer (called an MT officer in the Aux.) to see what he recommends for you and get started right away. If you have forgotten how to add and subtract, re-learn it. If you used to be a HAM radio user, get out your old books and brush up on the phonetic alphabet. It's Alpha, Bravo; not Able, Baker anymore. If you haven't been swimming in a long while, consider getting back in the pool and refreshing your skills. If you were a boy or girl scout, get out your knot books and re-learn how to tie a bowline. Consider a little physical training. There are no minimum physical requirements to be in the Aux. but if you want to crew on a boat or an airplane there are minimum swim requirements (although they're not hard) and everything you do will come easier if you're in better shape. I'm not saying you have to go out and run for 5 miles but it wouldn't hurt to be in good enough shape to stand a watch on a boat (lots of standing and flexing your legs) or throw a line or help lift an injured person. If you can swim a couple lengths of a pool, walk a couple of miles or climb a ladder, you're probably on the right track. If you have real trouble walking or standing you can still contribute, it'll just be harder and take more effort on your part.

    Both of you can also think about contributing to a local active duty station. In Boston, it should be easy to find a station and check to see if they want communications watchstanders or even boat crew. You should go through your FC to have that checked through the chain of leadership but it's a rewarding pursuit. In Indiana the only options for active duty involvement is Michigan City. That may well be a very long drive for you so don't worry if it's not a good option for you. If however you're in the far north of the state you have stations and port security units all over the place. Think it over and see what you are able to do. If there is an Aux. Aviation unit and you want to get involved with them, ask your FC to help you out. You don't need to be a pilot to get into Aux. Air, you just need to be willing to get the skills necessary to contribute to the mission (communications, navigation, photography, etc.).
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    28 Sep 2011 01:06 PM
    This previous post highlights another reason an active duty or reserve or retired Coast Guardsman would consider joining the Aux. If you are stuck at a duty station doing something important but dry, maybe you wish you could get out on the water. If you happen to be CG assigned to duty in West Va. at the data processing center you can join an Aux. unit and go our on Aux. patrols on rivers and lakes in the area. That's even true of active duty in facilities near the water. Some assignments all about piloting a desk with little opportunity to get on the water. If you're stuck at a desk for 36 months, consider joining the Aux. so you can keep your feet wet a little. As in my above notes, you'll be a positive influence to the other Aux. and it's better than polishing a chair with your behind.
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    24 Oct 2011 02:09 PM
    Just a short note because it's been way too long since I posted.
    One more good reason for Active/Reserve/Retired folks to work with or join the Aux. is career. If you're an FS2 at a station and you go on airborne Aux. missions you might just be able to be johnny-on-the-spot and do something good (like taking an airborne photo of your fellow station personnel in action) for your OIC or even get noticed by your sector command. An electronics tech that also happens to be an Aux. Coxswain or an O-3 who becomes an Aux. PWC (Jet Ski) operator has the chance to get noticed. Yes this is an irregular way to get recognition but if you're a go-getter that is looking for new ways to excel in a noticeable fashion the Aux. may give you that chance.

    In a world that rewards outside-the-box thinkers like Steve Jobs and Walt Disney folks sometimes have to look for the somewhat irregular ways to get ahead. The Aux. can actually give a motivated individual the perfect opportunity to stay within the "family" while also getting a little outside the box. Worth thinking about.
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    30 Nov 2011 01:14 PM
    One last reason for folks who already own a set of Trops or ODU's or a flight suit to join the Aux.

    Money

    Yes, you read that right. Money.

    Look at it this way, you already own the uniforms. You already have the skills. If you happen to live near a Flotilla you or a marina you won't even have to travel far.

    So to borrow a slogan from the '80's - Where's the beef?

    Some states give you special tax incentives to be in the Aux. You'd have to look it up in your area but in Maryland we get a $3,500 deduction from our state taxes because of the CG Aux.

    If you're already a boat owner and you get the vessel certified as a CG Aux. facility, you may be able to deduct a portion of the costs associated with your boat because of using it for the Aux. the same for a plane or a radio rig. These deductions may be applicable to both Federal and State taxes (look it up yourself, I'm not a licensed tax man).

    Also, depending on your boat/plane/etc. the Coast Guard will give you a stipend for maintenance and pay for your fuel and food when you operate under orders. I know that one of my pilots who flies about 80% of his airborne time under orders for the CG Aux. pretty much pays for his yearly maintenance and inspections out of CG reimbursements (and by being extra frugal and careful with his plane and money).

    OK, we're not talking get-rich money. We're talking about squeezing a bit of extra $$ out of a situation you might already be getting involved in like owning a boat, plane, radio rig.

    Let's say you're a reservist in Maryland who wants to get a used Boston Whaler. If you join an Aux. unit and get your boat approved as a facility you can theoretically deduct some of the equipment you put on that boat and also get some expenses-paid-for time driving it around. You get the tax deduction from Maryland (have to be in Aux. for 3 years to qualify) and you don't even have to buy a new uniform, your old tucked-in ODU's will be fine.

    In these tight times, and if you're the type of person who would have been doing on-the-water or in-the-air or on-the-radio activities anyway it's a good way to mitigate some of the costs of your pastime. Even if you do nothing else, just being members for over 3 years (and participating some) will give my wife and I $7,000.00 in deductions from our Maryland State Taxes. Not bad.
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    21 Oct 2012 10:12 PM
    I have a question about the Aux as well... I've gone through a big life change at 34 years old and am currently enrolled back at college for a mass communications BA and working to join the CG Res. I feel my background in the theater would fit well into the rate of PA but I also know it's almost impossible to get a PA A school slot. I was wondering if training and serving with the CG Aux would help before I head to BMT (or DEPOT, hopefully). Would double training be helpful or just a conflict? I live in Los Angeles and am very interested in serving the Coasties in any capacity but it would be nice to love my job as well. Any advice would be great. Thanks!
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    22 Oct 2012 03:41 PM
    Well, here's the scoop. In the Aux. you can get trained up as a PA but it's a much slower course of action than in the reserves or active duty. We've had Aux. PA guys get into classes and train alongside the active duty guys but it's more-or-less space available. If the slots are all filled up for any particular class, Aux. gets cut. That means to get trained to the level of a PA3 would probably take something like 4 years as an Aux. (maybe longer).

    Even so, it's a path. Also, serving in the Aux. you can get a taste for what the Coast Guard does. If you excel, you might even impress someone enough to get a letter of recommendation. It might not count for a lot but it's better than a sharp stick in the eye and it might help (might not) when it comes time to ask for assignments or get into an A school slot. If nothing else, you'll get a chance to do something worthwhile. You can qualify for boat duty and get out on the water. If you have any skill with a camera there is neat stuff you can do with that for PA work. Can you write well...
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    22 Oct 2012 11:28 PM
    Well.... I have been known to turn a phrase or two! That's a fantastic, straight-up, answer. Thanks! Realistically, it seems I'd be doing better to keep pursuing the Reserve program and if I get stuck with Food Services, at least I'd still be doing more personally satisfying work in the Aux. I guess, also, it may just come down to the ASVAB: if I really do too poorly then perhaps that's a sign that I should stay away from firearms anyway! Just kidding. Thanks again and cant wait to come aboard.
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    15 Feb 2016 03:40 PM
    Hi I am 16 and I am looking to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary. I want also to join the Coast Guard after college. I am wondering when you volunteer. I know there are monthly flotilla meetings but when do you serve other than that? Is it a couple times a week? Thanks.
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    16 Feb 2016 06:18 AM
    The Aux is a volunteer organization. Meetings are generally once a month. You decide what you'd like to do to contribute. If you live in the South you could get underway a couple times a week. Up Nawth here we have crews out most weekends, and we take turns as crew members. Others do boat inspections. Some of the members close to a station augment (serve, help out) at the station, mostly in the communications area.

    You have to be 17 to join, but there is no reason you can't check out your local flotilla(s). Hopefully you find one that fits you and what you want to do.

    If you are considering the CG after college, there are options for you. There is the Auxiliary University Program (AUP) where you join the Aux and volunteer while at school. This includes taking some specific courses. There is the CSPI program which pays for your last two years of school. There is the US Coast Guard Academy, where your education is paid for in return for service, and is similar to the Naval Academy, just smaller, like the Coast Guard. You can find information on the last two at gocoastguard dot com. Or feel free to PM me about the AUP or Academy. Good luck!
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    16 Feb 2016 09:01 AM
    Thanks for responding! I am actually turning 17 in a few months so I will check out my local Flotilla soon!
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