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Uniform Allowance
Last Post 18 Aug 2019 04:17 PM by MarkP. 17 Replies.
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l911User is Offline
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l911

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21 May 2013 07:42 PM
    Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever thought of just asking a Congressman or Senator to sponsor a bill to allow for some kind of uniform & equipment allowance? 
    In my paid government job, we get $500 a year for a very conservative city. All we need is enough to purchase the basic required items to function as true volunteers. 

    I'm positive this would be a non-partisan issue. 
    FloridaGirlUser is Offline
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    21 May 2013 08:07 PM
    ...We do get a uniform allowance.
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    21 May 2013 08:16 PM
    FG... Auxiliary. I don't think they get an allowance.
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    21 May 2013 08:37 PM
    Woops. Missed that is was in the Aux forum! lol
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    AmorhetlevenUser is Offline
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    22 May 2013 07:26 AM
    Auxiliary doesn't get anything for uniforms, but the way it works in my district is that once you are in an operations program (boat crew, etc.) you get your PPE issued to you.

    It would be nice to get something for uniforms, but I think of it as a start up cost. Depending on what programs you participate in would dictate your uniform needs and since we don't use them everyday like the gold side, our uniforms tend to have a longer life span and thus reduce the cost of them over the long run.
    scoutdad25619User is Offline
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    22 May 2013 09:09 AM
    When you join, they make it very clear that uniforms are your responsibility, and (at least in the case of my flotilla), the leadership is understanding in the fact that the startup cost is pretty high (I paid over $300 for trops & one ODU, and I already had shoes and boots), but it would be nice for some kind of assistance (pipe dream) as the expectation for a complete uniform that is made by the National leadership is a very pricey endeavor. I would hope that the leadership staff in each flotilla (and Division, etc) keeps things in perspective when it comes to their members uniforming up. Thankfully the real expensive stuff (as Amorhetleven said) like boat crew PPE is issued by the District.

    I don't see the policy changing anytime soon. We're volunteers, the USCG keeps no secrets regarding us being on the hook for almost all costs and if you want to be a part of it, you're going to have to pay. You have to wonder though, if they did change things, how many more talented people would join our ranks? People who stay away otherwise simply because they can't afford it. Something to think about.
    DUTY IS DOING IT, PRIDE IS WEARING IT, TRADITION IS LIVING IT. “DUTY FIRST” – CHIEF EDMUND ENWRIGHT, CHICAGO F.D. (RETIRED)
    l911User is Offline
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    23 May 2013 06:27 PM
    I'll ask my congressman.....
    mkellyUser is Offline
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    24 May 2013 09:38 PM
    We pay for all of our seabag items in boot camp don't we? It gets taken out of our paycheck right? Or at lease some of it. Then we get an allowance to upkeep it. Shoot, they charge us for laundry and haircuts in boot camp!
    AmorhetlevenUser is Offline
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    25 May 2013 12:08 PM
    Mkelly, this is for the auxiliary not active duty.
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    25 May 2013 05:05 PM
    I realize this is Auxiliary. I was just making the point that we use our uniforms every day working for the government and we still had to pay for them. I feel like it was over $800. With the sequester and budget cuts, its hard to ask congress to give money towards volunteer Coast Guard that will use them sporadicly. I appreciate all the Auxiliary does but there is so much budget cutting right now that it seems strange to give money for Auxiliary clothing when active duty pay checks are cut in half for the first couple of months they are in the Coast Guard paying for their own sea bag items and whatnot.
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    25 May 2013 05:12 PM
    How many days a month does Auxiliary work? I think we get something like $29 or $30 a month for materiel allowance. I guess if it was broken down to the couple of days a month worked it would be somewhere between $2-7 a month extra for Auxiliary? That might not be too hard to find in a budget I guess, but it seems like it wouldn't do too much or be worth the work to put a bill in for that. Maybe I'm wrong.
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    25 May 2013 06:51 PM
    The time worked varies by each member. I won't argue that our uniforms should last longer (depending on what we do), and I wont dare compare what we do against what the active and reserve members do. In my opinion, you shouldn't have to pay for your stuff either.
    However, I think the point that 911 is making is since the Auxilary is 100% volunteer, asking the government to give us the uniforms shouldn't seem unreasonable. I too have a government job (municipal) and my town gives me $500 year. I don't see the federal government doing it though. When you have people willing to drop the cash, let them, right? We joined the Auxiliary to be part of and support a great organization and just being afforded the opportunity to wear the uniform is a high honor. Speaking for myself, I didn't mind spending the money (not going to lie, if they gave us a stipend I wouldn't turn it down, but I won't ask, nor do I expect anything). It's enough for me to get the chance to learn and apply new skills, and work along side the AD & Reserves to justify the expense.
    DUTY IS DOING IT, PRIDE IS WEARING IT, TRADITION IS LIVING IT. “DUTY FIRST” – CHIEF EDMUND ENWRIGHT, CHICAGO F.D. (RETIRED)
    VicNaz1User is Offline
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    28 May 2013 03:05 PM
    The comparison could be made between what do various voluntary fire departments and other unpaid security/life-saving/rescue organizations provide and what the Auxiliary branch of the Coast Guard provide. Further, what are the differences between genuinely civilian organizations vs. being part of the uniformed civilian branch of a military organization.

    First up, auxiliary personnel get treated like officers. Everyone knows that Auxiliary personnel do NOT have command authority except under extremely rare and very carefully constrained circumstances. Even so, Aux. gets the privilege of wearing officer-like uniforms and believe it or not a Chief even threw me a salute last week at Curtis Bay. It caught me so off guard it took me like 4 seconds to return it. He smiled and we got to chatting about the 41’ UTB, etc. but that’s another topic. The fact is, I and all Aux. are given the privilege of behaving like officers and part of that privilege is paying for your own uniforms. If you think it’s expensive, just ask a young Marine LT how much he spends on his uniforms and it’ll open your eyes a bit that someone probably making less than the manager at the local Starbucks has to cover to remain properly dressed. For us Aux. it’s peanuts compared to what an active duty or reserve officer has to shell out.

    OK, even putting all of that aside, there are many unpaid positions in this world that do require (or at least strongly encourage) uniforms but often have to choose between operational safety expenses and uniform expenses. I know that in Montgomery County, Maryland, some school crossing guards get pay and also get issued uniforms and safety equipment. That’s probably a little unusual. Mont. Co. MD is more wealthy than many. I understand that in some places in this nation, they get NO pay, get some safety equipment and are encouraged to wear “appropriate” uniform-like clothing. In various fire departments they have a broad range of what is provided and what is not. In all circumstances I believe the general philosophy is that $$ spent on safety gear comes first, uniforms 2nd. Me, I’m willing to cover the cost of my own boots if it means that someone else gets a good PFD or Dry Suit. In fact, the Coast Guard does provide top-notch PPE and other gear that is sometimes worn instead of uniform. I’ve been on many missions where I was in my Dry Suit for 10 hours and I guess that would count as 10 hours on duty that didn’t put any wear on my uniforms because I wasn’t wearing one.

    With money as tight as it is, there are ways to smooth things over. First up, buy used. My first set of ODU’s I purchased from an Aux. who was retiring from auxiliary duty. I was exceptionally glad to get them for only about $15 complete back in 2007 and I still wear those old (but still serviceable) tucked-in ODU’s on Aux. duty. That saves my spiffy new untucked ODU’s for duty at Station with the active duty folks. Also, check and double check with the active duty units in the area. Whenever someone gets out of the Coast Guard they often get rid of stuff. If it’s still serviceable and there’s no one in the active duty who needs it more, maybe they’ll sell or give it to you. Also, see if you know anyone who knows anyone in the NOAA corps. The ODU’s they wear are almost identical and might be acceptable for Aux. use. Double and triple check that one. I’ve never had the opportunity to look very closely at a NOAA person in uniform.

    As to getting money out of Congress, please think that through deeply. Of course we’re all citizens here and if anyone wants to petition someone in Congress to give more to the Aux., that’s your right. Do remember though, our Congress hasn’t really shown a lot of competence at much of anything in the last few years. If (a big if here) Congress did pony up money for the Aux. for uniforms, how long do you think it would be before some bone-head started talking about proper political management of the “valuable volunteer resources” or some other tomfoolery. Hell, they’d probably use it as an excuse to implement a support-the-auxiliary tax and take several hundred million dollars from the people of the United States only to waste 97% of it and trickle a tiny, tiny bit down for uniforms. No thanks. I’m more than happy to let the Commandant be both the first and last word when it comes to dealing with Congress with regard to the Aux.

    OK, where does that leave folks? Uniforms cost, PPE costs, money’s tight, we need more people to volunteer to serve in the Aux. and help the Coast Guard. I don’t know all of the regulations but maybe there are forms of fund raising that can be used to help new people afford their shiny new Bates boots or their very first set of Trops. Maybe we can be a little more organized in passing along uniforms from older Aux. folks to newer ones, when appropriate. Maybe local communities can get involved. I’m not sure what the legal folks would say but if a local city or county happens to have some $$ maybe they can contribute uniform money to some needy Aux. members. Whatever works.
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    28 May 2013 11:07 PM
    i feel like the uniform issue was explained to aux folks when they join. if that doesn't work for you, then move on. that's part of volunteering, meaning there will be out of pocket expenses. i do believe these out of pocket expenses can be put against your taxes, correct? worst case, find out if there is a lucky bag in your area and see if you can't get some of the items.
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    29 May 2013 10:56 AM
    I forgot to touch on that. Tax deductions go a long way to covering uniform expenses. Look sharp in your local laws and tax breaks. I know in Maryland I get a nice little $3500 deduction just for being an Aux. That helps a bit with covering expenses. Other state or local laws may give you a break on things like that. If you itemize you might even be able to deduct a small portion of your property or part of the value of your boat or something else based on the portion you use to conduct Aux. activities. I have about 1/2 of a room, including acloset, just for stuff associated with Coast Guard functionality. For me, that's a lot of stuff, Academy recruiting, airborne Aux. operations, training and serving as boat crew at Station St. Inigoes, paperwork for being VFC for my flotilla, etc., etc.

    jini3 is completely correct. Incoming members are made aware of the expenses and most new people can get started for only a couple hundred dollars or less. I thin my boots were the only really large expense I had that first year. I purhcased a hand-me-down flight suit from a former Air Force pilot for $30. Garrison Cap, $20. Shiny bits $30. I was proud to have something meaningful to spend money on but I was a grad student at the time so I had to be careful.

    Anyway, rather than looking for extra money from congress, see if some money has already been made available in creative ways. Also, Aux. folks can indeed sometimes apply for grants for equipment or money from various sources. Check and double check the regulations on such things but it may well be that there is already a source of $$ to support Aux. members for things like uniforms and equipment. Also, Aux. are allowed to ask for surplus from Government sources. I understand it takes a lot of paperwork and seriously painful process in some cases but maybe, just maybe there is a source for uniforms and other equipment that can be had via surplus.
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    31 May 2013 06:55 AM
    My Flotilla is very lucky in that our FC also works as the uniform manager for the local USCG Exchange. She snags unwanted uniforms (primarily ODUs) left and right from active duty members getting out or just upgrading. She operates it on a donation basis - AUX members pay what they can and all of it goes to the base MWR fund. However even with this, many members have commented on the expense of uniforms, especially when certain items become no longer authorized and a new wardrobe is required.

    Between her program and the base lucky bin I got two full sets of Trops, three sets of ODUs and SDB jacket for $60 (probably $500+ value). I know that I may be the exception since I live in an area with a large CG presence (Boston), but there are avenues to get uniforms for cheap. Granted, it also helps that I'm average military height/weight.

    In addition to the items already stated, the issue I see with getting a uniform allowance is there wouldn't be follow through to make sure you actually spent it on uniforms/used the uniforms/stayed involved. If my flotilla is any indication there would be a moderate group of people who would use the allowance for the right reasons and use the uniform frequently, but the majority would likely have a closet full of new, unused uniforms, or worse, a cash bonus for not doing anything in the Auxiliary.

    Instead of asking congress for an allowance, a more immediate (and likely more effective) avenue would be contacting a local exchange to set up a uniform donation program from out-going active duty members. Just my $0.02.
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    PriorQM

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    07 Jun 2019 09:46 AM
    We have an AUX distributor about an hour from where I live. They have a lot of used uniforms. I was able to get a full set of trop with all the stuff I need for $32. I would encourage people to look around before forking hundreds.
    MarkPUser is Offline
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    18 Aug 2019 04:17 PM
    My issue it two fold, both with being a big guy. Although the CGX lists my sizes for ODUs, they simply aren't available any longer and they want seven pages of measurements to custom manufacturer them. No information on the cost of said "custom" uniforms yet. Six months ago I could not fit an ODU at all, I'm now in one 60 blouse, (and getting smaller) but the next available size from the CGX is 52. Since I was a size 54, forty plus years ago, I'm pretty sure that a 52 is not in my future....

    The other issue is boots. I've been through five different manufacturers for composite (or steel) safety toe boots without finding one that fits the width of my foot. I'm a 13/14 in most shoes and boots, but even a 15EW is too narrow in the safety cap. Bates, Danner, others, all tell me that there is no way to get a wider toe cap so I'm looking for affordable toe amputation.... and donating unworn boots to the lucky bag.

    Any hints on finding 56-58-60 ODU blouses would be amazing. I fit standard Trops and ODU trousers, even 2x tees, it's simply shoulder and chest (and feet) that are are making my station life difficult.
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