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considering joining, worried about spouse
Last Post 13 Jul 2014 09:46 PM by mkelly. 7 Replies.
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newbattUser is Offline
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newbatt

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05 Jul 2014 04:31 PM
    I'm considering joining the Coast Guard and our major sticking point right now is how hard it might be on my wife.  Obviously, the Coast Guard is a sea going service and I couldn't stay away from a cutter assignment for my entire career (and I probably wouldn't want to stay off of cutters for 20+ years, even if it were possible).  So, assuming a routinely sea-going rate, how long should we expect me to be gone?  I know the patrol lengths vary with cutter length, but does the time in between patrols also vary proportionally?  Finally, if any Coast Guard spouses see this, what has your personal experience been with patrols and time away; how difficult has it been on you and your family?  Thanks so much for your input!
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    07 Jul 2014 04:01 PM
    For comparison, is there a difference in deployment lengths/time between deployments for the aviation rates?
    Old Guard2User is Offline
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    Old Guard2

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    07 Jul 2014 04:27 PM
    I am a former Coast Guard wife. There is nothing I would change about my time as a Coastie wife. I loved it. I got to see places I would never have experienced being just a girl in my hometown. I have made friends that live all over the world now... some I talk to frequently, even get to see often. Others I talk to on occasion and haven't seen in years but we are still friends. Granted it isn't for everyone. There are days it got really difficult. But you fight through it and stick it out together.

    Cutter life, you can expect to be gone half the year, home half the year. On a 270', you go out for 2 months, home for 2 months, give or take. On a 378', you go out for 3 months, home for 3 months. On a 110' maybe you go out for 2-3 weeks, home for 2-3 weeks. Actually, I think they go out for about a month... but same principle. Aviation rates deploy but it works a little different. We have a few on this forum in the aviation field, I'm sure they can help to answer how their deployment times work. I don't really want to speculate and say well, unless on duty, they're home every night. Because I know that isn't right.

    Every good military wife story starts with "And my husband was underway when..........." then fill in the blank with just about any scenario you can come up with. I had a husband that was a landlubber and never got underway on a cutter. But he did travel a lot. I have my share of stories. The CG is not what caused us to fail, WE caused us to fail, equally and we share in that responsibility. But it wasn't the CG life or the trying times that broke us up. It can be a great life. My daughter-in-law is doing beautifully. I knew she was a strong woman to begin with, smart, pretty, funny, personable... But the way she has managed deployments and now my son is considering trying for a THIRD cutter in a row, she just shrugs and says "It is what he loves!" So because she loves him, she is willing to go to a third cutter. I think a forth might push her over the edge, but that is years away.

    What you need to do is sit and discuss it with your wife. She needs to be completely honest... When you are on a cutter, stationed in Kodiak, Alaska, the snow hits, the pipes freeze, the walls collapse in your house, the engine block cracks on your car, you are forced to move in with your best friends because there is no available housing, you are living 4 adults, 3 dogs and a cat in a small 2 bedroom house... and your wife is pregnant, sleeping on a single pull out couch, while you sleep on the floor... Can she handle it! Yes, true story, really did happen to me! Looking back now... it was some of the best times of my life. Not all stories are that desperate, others are worse. When the tsunami alarm goes off for the first time. You are in the basement of your house and an earthquake hits. You live in New Orleans and a hurricane is bearing down on you with brute force and your Coastie, well he can't leave so you have to pack up the kid, the dog, the car and go by yourself.... It is a lot to take. But you make friends for life, you have great experiences, you try new cultures you couldn't have even imagined, you get to go to places that you would never have gone on your own.... It's worth it!
    Sector NY, Staten Island
    mkellyUser is Offline
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    10 Jul 2014 04:34 PM
    I don't deploy where I am but I stand duty every 3-4 nights right now which is a lot for most swimmers. We have 2 air facilities so for half of my duty nights, I'm out of town, and for the other half, I'm in town. The times where I am in town, my wife and kiddos can come visit if they would like if we have nothing going on. I know its hard for my wife at times when I am gone but I know she has learned a lot and we make due with what time we have together. I was TAD for a week a couple of months ago and when I got back, I could tell she needed a break so I try to do as much as I can around the house to give her a break. When I've had a rough duty day, she can tell and does what she can to take the load off. We work together and are always learning to communicate more efficiently.
    The swimmer wives are a great support group and also help each other out more than you can imagine.
    Just make sure that you are both in this together, both 100% committed to the situation.
    newbattUser is Offline
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    newbatt

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    11 Jul 2014 11:41 AM
    Thank you both so much for your replies! It's really encouraging to hear that it really is possible it is to learn, grow, and communicate together to make a healthy marriage and a coast guard career work together.

    Old Guard: It's really good to hear both sides, that it is both extremely hard and yet still completely workable, and even very good. And kudos to you for surviving all of that in Alaska!

    mkelly: Do you know how aviation deployments typically work for those who do deploy, or is it not as standard as it is for cutters? How is it broken up between units that do deploy and those that do not?
    mkellyUser is Offline
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    mkelly

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    13 Jul 2014 03:03 PM
    Aviation deployments are very different than those on cutters. When a cutter leaves, everybody leaves with it. For aviation deployments, its typically a crew or 2 that go. It really just depends on your unit, duty rotation, and how the guys work it out. I'm not at a unit that deploys. We have 2 air facilities that we stand duty at, but its not a deployment. If you are at a unit that deploys, you may never go if there are single guys who want to take the deployment, or people who want to make a few extra bucks. If you play it right, you can make some good money on deployments so some guys either need the money or want it and will take the deployments. Some aviation deployments also tend to be a little more chill than standing duty at home and guys like to go for that reason....Or you may have a bunch of guys in your shop that don't want to go and they will just try to divide it up between everybody. There are not a lot of aviation units that deploy.
    all that being said, whatever you choose to do in the Coast Guard, you will spend time away from your family. The Coast Guard is great about working with the family, nonetheless, you will spend time away. When we had our second child, I took about 2 weeks of leave straight and then I took leave in between my duty days, soooo, I was home for 2 weeks then about every 4 days a I would spend 24 hours at work and take leave for 2-3 days. That way I wasn't exhausting the other guys in my shop having to cover my duty and I was still getting time at home with the family. If nothing crazy at work was going on, I went to all of my wife's doctor appointments for the baby and went to most of our baby's first appointments. Each shop is different and each unit is different but the majority of your supervisors have a heart and if you work hard, they will go to bat for you for whatever you need within reason.
    If you do deploy, your wife will most likely not be alone, as in, she will always have another Coastie wife close by that she can call for help if need be. It a big family and everybody helps everybody....except for the boaties.....they are a grumpy group of people. HAHA
    GearsUser is Offline
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    Gears

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    13 Jul 2014 07:08 PM
    It a big family and everybody helps everybody....except for the boaties.....they are a grumpy group of people. HAHA


    Aviators are so scruffy looking they don't have a nerf to herd!

    Well said MKelly.
    “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” ― Bruce Lee
    mkellyUser is Offline
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    13 Jul 2014 09:46 PM
    HAHAHA!!!! I haven't heard that before!
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