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Beware misunderstanding and bad attitudes
Last Post 06 Mar 2015 11:52 AM by omgitsgela. 23 Replies.
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VicNaz1User is Offline
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18 Jul 2013 01:33 PM
    I'm going to try to lay out some real world situations and problems relating issues people have towards the Coast Guard Auxiliary and, in some cases, the regular Coast Guard. It's bad enough that there are indeed people in other services that don't seem to think very highly of the Coast Guard as a military force. It's even more profound when people show disrespect or even active hostility towards Coast Guard personnel. It can be a real problem for Auxiliary personnel who may have to deal with a double dose of disrespect. I want to make sure this is a place to share experiences and real-world solutions. 

    If you've seen an active duty Coast Guard or Auxiliary operation where people seemed to have a less-then-optimum attitude or you've encountered misconceptions in the workplace, nightclub, baseball game, cookout, etc. Let's hear about it.

    I'll start off with one I faced recently, former Marine who assumed that it was completely impossible that an Aux. (myself) could be serving at an active duty station as certified crew on an active duty boat. He even claimed that he spoke with a retired CG O-6 who told him that the Aux. was simply a club and that Aux. are not allowed to interact significantly with the regular Coast Guard. Even logic and references to various official manuals and Title 14 have been only imperfect tools to convince this person. I believe that he now grudgingly admits that it's possible for Aux. to serve in some capacity alongside the active duty but he seems to simply refuse to believe it constitutes any form of real "duty" and or that it really happens in the real world. I may never be able to make him understand but facts, time and patience are all the tools I have. If he wants to think the Aux. is less than it is, that's probably the way it will have to be.

    I know there have been other issues that others have faced. I've even heard stories of hostility and distrust towards Aux. because someone wrongly believes that a boat inspection could lead to a ticket or fine. In that case someone is obviously thinking the Aux. is more than it is. Most people out there in the world see the uniform, know the Coast Guard does law enforcement, and thinks the worst even though Aux. have no police powers.

    Ok, stories anyone?
    VicNaz1User is Offline
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    VicNaz1

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    25 Jul 2013 10:11 AM
    Here's another misunderstanding, this one is a common Aux. (and non-Aux.) mistake. The ID card is just to show “membership” in the Auxiliary. That is mistaken and can actually be a dangerous attitude. Regardless of peoples' feelings on the subject, the Auxiliary ID is official Department of Homeland Security, federal identification and should not be left lying around in a drawer or sitting on your coffee table. It's actually a fairly important federal 'document' and Aux. who don't keep it safe are making a mistake. Although that ID is not a "military" ID it is official, issued via a military organization and should be treated with appropriate respect. It can get you into federal buildings and onto many military bases and installations (double check before you go).

    Conversely, there are Aux. who mistakenly think the Aux. ID indicates they are "in" the Coast Guard. Although it does indicate that you are an officially recognized "instrumentality" of the federal government there is a thin, profound line between being active duty/reserves and being Aux. Anyone who is unsure about where that line is and the very specific circumstances under which that line moves, should read (or re-read) the Aux. Manual, the Aux. Operations Policy Manual and Title 14. That goes for active duty folks too. Those documents aren't just to tell the Aux. how to function, they also tell the active duty how to use or 'employ' Aux. personnel. The ID show that an Aux. personnel is vetted to do Coast Guard duty of carefully defined types on their own or alongside the active duty. It does not put a member 'in' the Coast Guard and it should never be shown like a 'badge' except to appropriate people in appropriate circumstances.

    As to other service branches, tread lightly. It’s really only a 50/50 chance that any particular Coast Guard personnel will understand what an Aux. ID means and what Aux. personnel really are. At the CG academy I believe the subject of the Aux. only gets touched on lightly and only a couple of times. In other services such as the Navy, Air Force, etc. they probably have only about a one in a thousand chance of knowing what a Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel is. If it crops up, remember to be polite.

    An Aux. with an ID represents the entire Coast Guard (in some ways) and a bad impression can reflect on everyone. An Aux. who shows the Aux. ID to get onto a base should know the limits of their responsibility and fully understand the boundaries they should not cross. They cannot expect other service members to know Aux.-oriented stuff nor do Aux. personnel have the status to ‘push’ on any issue where they think they are correct. That means following the rules, having a great deal of patience, and knowing when to put the ID away and do as you are told. Remember, if someone in a uniform says your ID isn’t good enough to do X or Y, they may be right or wrong but they are to be respected.
    NYBoUser is Offline
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    25 Jul 2013 06:57 PM
    So far the only misunderstandings I've encountered were when I had to stop and do some quick errands on my way to Auxiliary meetings and I was wearing trops. A cashier thanked me for my service. I only said, "thank you," as I was in a hurry. In the other case, I had to grab a few items at Home Depot, again while in trops. I used the self-checkout aisle. My total didn't seem quite right, but again I was in a hurry and didn't think much of it. When I looked at my receipt later, it had a 10% military discount on it! Apparently the employee watching the self-checkout area saw the uniform and entered the discount without asking or telling me. Fortunately, I had only bought a small number of fairly cheap items and the discount didn't amount to much.

    Frankly, both experiences left me uncomfortable. In the future, I am going to do my darnedest to avoid such situations. If I can't take the time to act as a goodwill ambassador for the Auxiliary, I don't want to be mistaken for Gold Side and accrue any undeserved benefits.
    scoutdad25619User is Offline
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    27 Jul 2013 11:36 AM
    I had a similar situation recently. I was teaching a RBS class at a local Bass Pro Shops store. After I set up the classroom, I went to buy a bottle of water. At the checkstand, the young man running the register automatically gave me a military discount and like in NYBo's case thanked me for my service. I politely tried to explain the auxiliary to him and he would have none of it. I didn't want to make a scene or cause this kid any grief for his kindness, but I felt really wierd getting that kind of treatment. His manager explained to me later the cashier was just out of the Army, and if you were in a uniform (fire, police, scout, whatever) he gave you the 10% off and the company was fine with it. He's just out of the Army - a combat vet, and he's giving ME something....

    It was an honest act of kindness, but it it made me uncomfortable just the same.
    DUTY IS DOING IT, PRIDE IS WEARING IT, TRADITION IS LIVING IT. “DUTY FIRST” – CHIEF EDMUND ENWRIGHT, CHICAGO F.D. (RETIRED)
    BellsUser is Offline
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    27 Jul 2013 11:44 AM
    I understand that people can wear their uniforms on the way to and from home, however I wouldn't run quick errands in it. Ever. We love the AUX here at our unit. But again they leave their uniforms here and change in and out here.

    Love them though and appreciate their help.
    Take what you like and leave the rest behind.
    Old Guard2User is Offline
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    27 Jul 2013 12:25 PM
    Scout's situation sounds a bit different. He was at a class he was running and stepped away from his classroom to get water. Not an errand type thing, a break at an off site location. But I do agree with Bells, unless shopping at the base, you probably shouldn't be in uniform.
    Sector NY, Staten Island
    NYBoUser is Offline
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    27 Jul 2013 02:54 PM
    Yeah, as I stated, I'm not going to get myself into that situation again.
    scoutdad25619User is Offline
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    28 Jul 2013 11:30 AM
    I go to and from duty assignments in uniform, but I don't stop between "here and there" unless its an emergency, for the very reasons stated above. Sometimes it's unavoidable, but as a practice, from home to duty, duty to home (we meet at a firehouse that is kind of central to our AOR and far for alot of us to travel to just so we can change clothes. But that's not a bad idea, if you can do it. I did it when I went on duty at the FD).
    NYBo, you yourself didn't do anything wrong, and you tried to make sure the error was corrected and you learned something from it. What else can you do?
    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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    29 Jul 2013 10:55 AM
    Wearing the uniform out drinking at Mardi Gras, not good. Wearing the uniform while getting gas on the way to station, OK. Wearing the uniform while picking up your fiancé from her place of work, borderline (best behavior, probably avoid). Wearing the uniform while doing anything, think carefully, make sure you’ve read the manual, err on the side of caution and best ethical behavior.

    It is my understanding that guidelines indicate that wearing the uniform to and from duty or an authorized event is perfectly acceptable. In addition, stopping to pick up a loaf of bread at the supermarket is not a prohibited activity unless the local command has said so. As such, if you are otherwise authorized to wear the uniform and you are legitimately engaged in business that is genuinely on-the-way to or from an official function (stop to buy gas, drop off a letter, get a cup of coffee) there does not seem to be any reason to avoid such activity unless a reason has been previously defined. The directives all indicate that the Auxiliarist must remain cognizant of the fact that they are in uniform and represent the Coast Guard (both the Aux. and the active duty) in the best manner possible.

    If you have to stop at your wife’s work or child’s daycare on the way home from a radio drill, that’s reasonable and Aux. should not be fearful of that circumstance, just careful. If an Aux. has been on duty all weekend at an active duty station and stops at a gas-n-go for fuel and a soda, they don’t need to try to cover up their uniform, just remember that you represent the service and behave at your best. Don’t dawdle and don’t do anything out of the ordinary. Do finish your business promptly and get back on the road as soon as you can.

    If a coffee shop or grocery store gives any personnel in any uniform a discount, that is all well and proper and is a private thing between that business and the individual involved. It does not constitute breach of ethics or regulations to accept a 10% discount on a cup of coffee unless the Aux. misrepresents his or her self as military personnel. Remember, those same organizations often give the same discount to police, firefighters and other uniformed personnel.

    If any Aux. feels uncomfortable accepting a discount on something because they are ‘mooching’ off the reputation of military personnel they should try to avoid those situations and correct misconceptions when they can. They should also remember that creating a “stink” may do much more harm than good and that the feel-good part of a person or business extending a discount to someone in uniform is something we should not step on. If it makes them feel good to do it we shouldn’t damage a good thing for the sake of our own ethics. Simply smile, say “thanks” and try to avoid letting it happen again. If necessary, bring the issue up at the next Flotilla meeting.

    From the manual:
    Wearing of the Auxiliary uniform without proper authority is a violation of law. Prohibited occasions for wear include:
    a. In places of dubious reputation where the uniform might be discredited or disgraced.
    b. When engaged in political activities.
    c. During paid employment or sports.
    d. Aboard an Auxiliary vessel or aircraft facility unless the facility is on an authorized patrol.
    e. Entry to or while present in a foreign country or territory unless specifically authorized by an appropriate Coast Guard authority. Authorization may be granted in the following cases: (NOTE: look them up)
    Iceman1978User is Offline
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    02 Aug 2013 07:57 PM
    I haven't seen anything like that here. We have a great relationship with the Gold Side. Whenever I'm at the Station I always run into people that I know. There's some tension between the two Flotillas in our area, but I stay out of that as much as I can. To me it seems childish considering that we're all on the same team.

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    02 Aug 2013 08:06 PM
    One thing you have to keep in mind though, is that the general public has no clue what the Auxiliary is. They see a blue uniform and they think..Coast Guard. It's one of the reasons that I always wear ODU when we're on patrol, even when we're authorized to wear shorts. I know the Auxiliary is sometimes authorized to wear shorts, but if I'm in any situation where I have interaction with the public (Patrol, VE, etc.) I'm going to be in ODU or Trops.

    Another word of advise: When on patrol, performing VE's, or at any Public Affairs event; always assume you're being taped or photographed or could be at any moment. When in uniform, always remember that you're representing the Coast Guard.
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    03 Aug 2013 07:21 PM
    Good advice, Iceman.
    VicNaz1User is Offline
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    06 Aug 2013 06:53 AM
    Iceman1978 brings up a very good point which is also anchored in the rules/law. Assume that your behavior is being monitored and always act as if you were a Coast Guard representative. Why, because someone may be watching/filming/recording and the simple fact is that when you're in uniform on bona fide Coast Guard business (especially when you're "assigned to duty") you are a Coast Guard employee. There are limits to what 'employee' means in the legal sense so if you haven't read up on the subject, do so. Whatever the case you should remember that when you're in that uniform you are Coast Guard in several legal aspects AND in the eyes of the public.

    That doesn't give Aux. any additional authority really except as related to the very specific issues covered in Title 14 and in the various manuals. It does however give Aux. a lot of responsibility, much greater than might be assumed by either the Aux. personnel or the public. If you're an Aux. in uniform you should remember that at that moment you are a service member in the eyes of the public and you MUST act accordingly. It also means that there is a bit of shield for you. Not bulletproof deflector shield strength but still something. An Aux. in uniform who is performing legitimate business is protected in some significant ways. If a drunken person attacks or harasses an Aux. they are violating several laws related to the protections of government personnel. Of course the best thing to do is consider your own safety and either avoid the situation or leave ASAP. Next up however is to inform your command and also local law enforcement. If any witnesses are involved, try to get contact info if possible without further confrontation or hazardous exposure.

    If, as an Aux. you goof or screw up, own up to it. You have taken an oath to perform to the best of your ability and part of that is being honorable with regard to what you do and how you do it. At least as an Aux. you are not subject to the stringent demands of the UCMJ. Screw up in uniform once and you’ve made a mistake, delay dealing with it properly and you’ve made another mistake.

    Also remember, be as nice to people as you can. Sometimes nicer than they might deserve. Aux. have no power to change people in a compulsory manner so we have to encourage folks to WANT to do the right thing. That goes for activities within the Aux. also. The FC and other leaders do not have command authority (except in extremely limited, carefully defined situations) and thus they must apply leadership without compulsory authority and remember that they are potentially in the public eye, even at a ‘private’ Aux. event.
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    06 Aug 2013 12:50 PM
    Thanks Vic and NY.

    We had a discussion about that in one of our Flotilla meetings (assume you're being taped) not too long after the Arab Spring uprisings last year. With hundreds of millions of people now having smartphones with the capability to take photos, videos, and upload them to the internet within minutes; it's probably safe for a lot of people in uniform to assume they're being taped.
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    06 Dec 2013 02:35 PM
    It didn't take us but a short time to figure out that its a 50/50 shot that any Auxiliary Division or Flotilla members or staff actually no what is going on. The Auxiliary has the legal ability to be so much more than it currently is.
    Here are some Basic & Current issues the Auxiliary needs to address:

    1) Clarify the mission statement of the Auxiliary with all branches of the federal, state & local authority, civil or military. ie: Send out paperwork to every possible agency.

    2) The Auxiliary needs a medical (CPR/AED/First Responder) Staff Officer (slot available) position in each Division & Flotilla. This is a MUST have.

    3) Each Division & Flotilla needs a Staff Officer position (slot available) for gear, supplies and uniforms.

    4) Every member should actually read COMDTINST M16790.1G

    5) USERRA needs to be updated to cover Coast Guard Auxiliary members who are Boat Crew Qualified.

    6) The Auxiliary should, needs & must have a Uniform & Gear Allowance for members that are BQ or higher status. This not something that is negotiable, its something that's got to be done ASAP. This is something Every member could work on, by simply calling their US Congressman. This should have been handled a long time ago.

    7) Clarify how, when, where the Auxiliary member & flotilla can obtain surplus Coast Guard equipment.

    8) Read the Auxiliary Mission Statement! www.cgaux.org/leadership/‎
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    06 Dec 2013 02:50 PM
    Some of you are making to much of wearing the Auxiliary uniform and getting a praise or a free bottle of water.

    Here is a link to the Auxiliary main page, some of you forgot to read it. http://join.cgaux.org/whyjoin.php

    Guardian Benefits

    Above and beyond the intrinsic benefits we all receive by volunteering our time and talents, Auxiliarists are privileged to receive many other benefits not available to other volunteer organizations. Both the Coast Guard and the National Board, Inc. provide these benefits as an enhancement to our volunteer service. The following is a listing of some of those benefits.
    Base Exchange Shopping Privileges
    Auxiliarists in uniform or with proper identification, can purchase anything sold in the Coast Guard Exchange Stores except liquor and cigarettes. Dependents may accompany Auxiliarists to the Exchange, but may not make individual purchases. Members of the Auxiliary are also welcome at Department of Defense Exchanges, but according to policy, only uniform items or accessories may be purchased.
    Uniforms and Awards
    The pride of wearing the Auxiliary uniform is amplified by awards and advancement, with ample opportunities to receive recognition by completing Auxiliary training courses and participating in programs authorized by your Flotilla leadership.
    Tax Deductions
    Uniforms, their cleaning and maintenance, and reasonable out of pocket expenses incurred in the performance of your duties are "considered" contributions for tax purposes. The foregoing is not intended to be advice on deductibility. Your should consult your professional tax advisor.
    Insurance Coverage
    A variety of insurance programs benefit the Auxiliarist operating under Coast Guard orders. This includes medical, hospitalization, disability and death benefits should an accident occur in the performance of your duty. If your boat, aircraft or other authorized Auxiliary facility is damaged or destroyed while legitimately engaged in Auxiliary operations, coverage for repairs or replacement would be provided. Government liability coverage protects the Auxiliarist from third party claims made as a result of actions that occur when the Auxiliarist is performing authorized missions and has been properly assigned to duty.
    Coast Guard Federal Credit Union
    The Coast Guard Credit Union provides all the services of a bank, but returns profits to the members instead of the stockholders. From savings and checking accounts to home equity lines of credit, the Credit Union has a lot to offer.
    Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
    Mutual Assistance provides an emergency fund that can provide fast financial relief when a member faces an unexpected or "impossible" financial burden that would cause personal hardship if no assistance were provided. Auxiliarists may apply for such a loan and are considered as "Sponsor Members" under the program. If approved, the emergency loan is interest free.
    Coast Guard Work-Life Programs
    Auxiliarists can take advantage of certain Coast Guard Work-life Programs such as:
    • Family Wellness
    • Dependent Resources
    • Employee Assistance
    •Relocation Assistance
    Fellowship
    One of the Auxiliary's trademarks is good old-fashioned hospitality. Friends, neighbors and interested members of the public are always welcome to attend one of our flotilla meetings. In addition, you will find a special camaraderie among Auxiliarists that is hard to beat. Along with our missions we find time to relax and have fun at Auxiliary outings, training sessions, patrols, CMEs, classes, and conferences. Auxiliarists make lasting, meaningful friendships
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    06 Dec 2013 03:03 PM
    jchughes05User is Offline
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    28 Jan 2014 06:44 AM
    What about actively seeking military discounts with your USCG Aux ID??

    I got a buddy who joined and tries to get mil discounts....
    scoutdad25619User is Offline
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    28 Jan 2014 11:14 AM
    Is he passing himself off as a member of the active duty or reserve component?
    DUTY IS DOING IT, PRIDE IS WEARING IT, TRADITION IS LIVING IT. “DUTY FIRST” – CHIEF EDMUND ENWRIGHT, CHICAGO F.D. (RETIRED)
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    28 Jan 2014 11:32 AM
    Not sure, he was just telling me that he asks for military discounts from hotels and places.

    He also put the CG Aux plates on his SUV and has radio equipment and antennas in there to use as a Mobile Platform...
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    29 Jan 2014 01:06 PM
    Many places offer discounts to AUX members. Where it get's sticky is when someone passes themselves off as a member of the Active Duty or Reserve, or they don't correct an assumption. There are legal ramifications, not to mention the dishonesty factor. Remember the core values of the Coast Guard: Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty". Remind him of those.
    DUTY IS DOING IT, PRIDE IS WEARING IT, TRADITION IS LIVING IT. “DUTY FIRST” – CHIEF EDMUND ENWRIGHT, CHICAGO F.D. (RETIRED)
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    11 Mar 2014 02:49 PM
    I found this topic while researching the Auxiliary (my name should probably tell you why), and I wanted to say something real quick.

    None of you should feel weird about hearing "thank you for your service". Sure, it's typically meant for full-fledged members of the armed forces, but it's no less accurate in describing what you do. It's service all the same, and it's a valuable contribution to our Coast Guard and our country.

    Thank you for your service.
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    24 Nov 2014 02:03 PM
    Discounts are something to be careful with. There is no specific regulation for or against Aux. accepting a discount that I am aware of. If an Aux. specifically misrepresents his or her self as a member of the active duty in order to get a discount at Walt Disney World or at the Army Exchange, that may constitute a violation. That comes down to the place, time and details of the circumstances. There is nothing wrong with asking if the company offers a discount to Coast Guard Auxiliary. Many businesses are happy to help out firemen (volunteer or otherwise), Police, Public Health Service, Soldiers, etc., etc.

    Everyone should just be careful and reasonable. Times are very tough for a lot of people and I cannot find it in myself to speak ill of an Aux. who is trying to make ends meet by getting a minor 'uniformed service member' discount at a store or movie theater. Just be understanding and aware of the fact that people are watching and you represent all of us.
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    06 Mar 2015 11:52 AM
    Posted By VicNaz1 on 25 Jul 2013 11:11 AM

    Conversely, there are Aux. who mistakenly think the Aux. ID indicates they are "in" the Coast Guard.

    Well, yes, you are. But you're in a different branch of the Coast Guard than the active duty counterparts. It depends how you frame the question. The instances that come up requiring use of the Aux ID, generally speaking, will be ones where you're doing some kind of support, duty, mission, or meeting, all of which fall under official business and can be documented under 7029. If you're wearing the uniform, it's presumed you're on this official business. In my circumstance, I don't have a personal vehicle. I throw on my uniform and make myself presentable before taking public transportation. My public transportation agency provides free admittance to military personnel, of which you are at the time you're taking the train to get to whatever business you're taking care of. That doesn't mean you're active duty, it means you're actively under self-actuated orders to go wherever you need to (within the legal context of your liability for doing whatever you're doing.)

    So in short, don't misrepresent yourself. You're in the Coast Guard as an agency, but more specifically in the Coast Guard Auxiliary as a civilian member who assists with civilian-based military missions. You can still be thanked for your service, and I would argue that's appropriate in this case. We do a lot of good in the world as Auxiliarists which help to support our active duty counterparts to focus on the things they would need to without our help. In the AUXMAN, it's specified than an Auxiliarist, on orders, (which include self-activated orders, such as attending a flotilla meeting through written orders) has the same authority to perform those orders as active duty counterparts. As the jobs we do could be manned equally, the thanks for the service is for the job you perform itself, and for augmenting CG forces so they can focus on what's important. Your service is important. Take it, smile, and run with it.

    Another interesting thing is the relationship with actives and auxiliarists. I've served public relations duty alongside goldside members, and they've always been extremely impressed at the dedication and attention to detail we provide, as well as stability for the Coast Guard as a whole. Remember, CG actives have a very high attrition rate. They're changing stations, PQS's, and duties every couple years. I know a couple good Auxiliarists that help to provide some continuity between unit changes. There's some jobs that require a long term investment, such as Sector Liason, Marine Environmental administrative support, or inspections. Auxiliarists can take these backbone services and assist in meaningful ways that help to provide the structural support that the CG actives can work under. It's a mutual respect, because we both have important duties for the good of the Coast Guard.
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