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A few general questions about CG life, assignments, rates....
Last Post 19 Dec 2018 10:19 AM by Old Guard2. 6 Replies.
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Humble308User is Offline
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Humble308

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16 Dec 2018 05:03 AM
    Hey all, I hope everyone is doing well.  I've been scouring the forum for a couple days and have learned quite a bit, but also wanted to get a few personal opinions.

    I'm a prior service Marine infantryman and have been considering coming back into the service for quite some time.  My wife is currently in the Army and we just got stationed in Germany for her first duty station, though it's not exactly her jam and will probably go reserves once her contract is up.  While I was turning in our car for the PCS I ran into a BM who was a former Army grunt and was just gushing about the Coast Guard and the incredible job satisfaction that he got in comparison with "big Army".  I started looking into the CG and I think this is the perfect organization to finish out my career.  I've narrowed myself down to two rates and would love to hear some advice or anecdotes.

    The first rate I'm considering is the GM.  I have an A.A.S degree in Gunsmithing and have worked as a gunsmith since 2013 so the GM seems like a natural fit.  I enjoy shooting, repairing, living and breathing guns.  I also keep reading that GM's may have some opportunity to teach or run ranges which is also attractive to me.  I'm a grunt at heart and have also been reading that GM's have some chances to do boarding operations and collateral LE duties.  I honestly like the idea of ME and MSRT, but 3-4 years for A-School seems like a long wait for a "what if" assignment.  I've gotten the opportunity to do lots of "cool guy" stuff with the Corps so I think I'd be happy with the GM rate and a slightly more tame lifestyle.  

    The other rate I'm looking at is the AST.  One of the things that I love about the military is that you're in service to your fellow man, and I feel AST truly embodies this concept.  While as Marines we egotistically puff up as the ultimate warrior,  the Corpsman that I served with in Afghanistan were some of the fiercest and selfless men I've had the honor of knowing and many of my closest friends are alive today because of them.  On that note, I've always wanted to give back and serve in this life saving capacity..."So that Others May Live" I believe is the motto and it gives me goosebumps thinking about it.  Reading through the forums, this appears to be one of the most fulfilling jobs in the CG.  I'm extremely comfortable in the water and attained the highest swim qualification the Corps had to offer before you have to switch to a swim instructor billet.  We also did some cool training with crashed air craft simulations and getting yourself out of a sunken chopper.  Being miserable in the water while not "fun", was pretty damn fun! 

    My long term for goal for the Coast Guard is to become a warrant officer.  While I will have a bachelors in Crim Justice by the time I can enlist I've always been more interested in the warrant officer side of things.  I was curious if anyone had some advice on this transition or roadmap?  Another goal would to become a Drill Instructor (I'm not sure what the CG calls them).  DI's are highly motivated and respected in the Corps and it's always been a goal of mine to attain this position.  One of the most rewarding aspects I got from being a team leader was the ability to mentor and teach my junior Marines.  I feel that DI's can help impact and influence the mind of recruits in positive way.  I haven't found much information on this however, and was curious how one goes about reaching this goal?  In the Army and Marine Corps it's a B-billet.  You can try out for DI or become a recruiter.  I know the CG does things differently, so any advice would be great.  After watching some CG boot camp videos the Drill Instructors have some similar intensity to my experience in the Corps...while the Army makes a complete joke of the hat (at least these days).    

    Finally (before this becomes a novel) I would love to hear what your favorite aspects of the Coast Guard have been?  What kind of assignments should I be shooting for, or what are the more favorable duty stations?  I keep hearing terms like cutter is better than land.  Or bigger boats are more fun than small boats....and vice versa!  The military life is truly what you make it, so I'm not adverse to doing boot duties and grunt work, but would also love to know what assignments to try and work towards in yalls eyes.

    My apologies for the long topic, figured it'd be easier to cram it all into one post than spread it over the several sub-genres.  Any input or advice would be great, I appreciate your time.  All the best!

    Semper Fi,
    Derek Goins
    mkellyUser is Offline
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    mkelly

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    16 Dec 2018 02:12 PM
    I feel like those questions can have really in depth answers that would take pages to cover. I'll try to keep this short and sweet.
    GM and AST are very separate ratings. I'm an AST and I love my job. I have only known of a couple AST's who don't want to stay in for 20 once they become an AST. Its certainly a brotherhood and I love the guys I work with. I love going to work every day and I love working out with these guys and I love flying and maintaining with all the guys in my shop. We have a great time together and have a great job. I'm biased but I think it's the best job in the CG. There is a couple of paths to warrant from AST rating but the warrant job is completely different. Not a whole lot of swimmers go warrant. It's not impossible to do, it's just that we enjoy the job so much. It is a hard road to become an AST and then leave to do another collateral like company commander.

    There isn't a type of assignment you should be shooting for and there isn't a shore or boat billet you should be shooting for. I don't know where you are hearing that a cutter is better than land. That is purely preference and I can pretty confidently say that air stations are a lot more chill than cutters. That doesn't mean they are better, it is just a different way of life.

    What assignment you work towards depends on personal preference and career goals. A lot those questions you asked have to be answered by you, once you get in and decide which direction you want to go.

    I like that the Coast Guard is small and very family oriented. I like that it doesn't always have to feel like the military. I love the job I do and the people I work with. The Coast Guard provides a lot of support for a lot of its members.
    Humble308User is Offline
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    18 Dec 2018 04:06 AM
    I really appreciate the thoughtful insight into your life as an AST. It's great to hear that the Coast Guard is so family oriented and the tight nit brotherhood has been the main thing I've missed since getting out of the Corps. It sounds like GM will be better for my career but AST will be better for my soul.

    I realize the physical standards are probably under and overstated all at the same time. I have about 3 years to prepare until I can enlist, would you have any advice on what areas to focus on in my work outs? My wife and I currently do crossfit, which I think she likes more than me. I was never a super fast runner with my best 1.5 mile time being about 10:30 mins and a 3 mile of about 20 mins. From what I've been reading it seems core exercises, flutter kicking your ass off, and finning are some of the best ways to prepare.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to reply to this post. I've certainly got a lot to consider.
    Old Guard2User is Offline
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    18 Dec 2018 10:20 AM
    How long have you been out of the Corps? There are time limits between separation and reupping, I'm sorry I don't remember the specifics. You really want to research the specifics on that. Also, your RE code, it needs to be an RE1. Same with limits on what rank you were when you separated, how long you served. All that stuff plays a factor in coming back into service. If you were up against a time limit thing and your wife truly decides not the life for me in the uniform, could you leave early and jump start your career and she catches up after her separation? I would hate for you to miss an opportunity because you didn't know and waited 6 weeks too long. That would truly suck. I know there are several people on here that know those answers a little better than myself so you can hang around and they'll be by eventually. You can also reach out to a recruiter, just throw it out there, make sure your options are all in place and you'll know when you can/should go.

    Thank you so much for your service and your wife. My husband was stationed in Germany, oh I'm going to say way before you were born! He was there in 1980. He loved it. Got out though because he got a CO that was a tool. He regrets it now, so I wish you all the luck on getting back into the service.
    Sector NY, Staten Island
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    18 Dec 2018 06:17 PM
    Something else you'll have to look at is high year tenure. Since you have already served, you'll be behind the curve for time in service and advancing. I know its hard for all aviation prior service. Right now aviation is not advancing as fast.
    3 years is a long ways away to start preparing for AST "A" school. That would be quite the mental grind. I would say that you should slowly star working on your water confidence. Do some Apnea training. Do some sprints in the pool followed by some over unders. maybe some double days where you get used to getting really tired on land and then hopping in the pool and getting a good pool workout in. Feel free to send me a message if you have more specific questions.
    Humble308User is Offline
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    19 Dec 2018 03:49 AM
    Hey OG, thanks for the reply. I've been out of AD since 2011 and out or IRR since 2015 I believe. My code is RE-1A and I was an E-4 (Corporal) when I was discharged. I've checked with the chat folks on my age and they said I should be fine up till 34 (I don't think they do constructed age with my prior service but a general age waiver for PS up to 34). I'm currently 30 and would be 33 when I able to be back in the US. Cutting it a little close I know, but the heart wants what it wants and I'll be damned if I don't even try. As far as the time limits of separation and coming back, I'm not sure...I've currently got an application in to the CG recruiters via website. I have indeed considered coming home prior to the PCS, but we'll see how it goes. The most aggravating part is that I'm stuck in Germany so I can't really begin any part of the process outside of the theoreticals.

    Do you know where he was stationed? I'm in Grafenwoehr which is about 30 mins away from Prague, CZ. It's really beautiful country out here. It's honestly really weird to be on the dependa side of things, but I have a new appreciation for the amount of support a service member needs. We're a really solid team and she's encouraging me to go to the AST side of things after we talked about all the rates one night.

    MKELLY - Thanks for the advice on the tenure. This is something I'll need to look into a bit further. Does IRR count against your TIS? I found a couple indoor pools that are about 1/2 hour away as unfortunately there isn't one on base, I guess the Army is scared of the water. The water exercises you mentioned are great and I already tend to do them when I'm in the pool, I'll definitely start concentrating my efforts.

    Again, all great input yall. Thanks very much.
    Old Guard2User is Offline
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    Old Guard2

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    19 Dec 2018 10:19 AM
    Humble, my husband was in Budingen, just outside of Frankfort. He was a cold war soldier, sat watching Germans on the other side of the wall. Something you probably don't even remember, it was 27 years ago. I was a Coastie wife and now I'm a Coastie mom. I never wore the uniform and I would never say I had it as hard as my (first) husband had it in the CG but there are days, being a dependent isn't always easy. However, I'll never regret marrying him or having the experiences being married to him gave me. I got to see places and meet people I would never have gotten to on my own, much less be able to say I lived there! Now that you are temporarily on this side of the fence of military life, just remember one thing... Every good story starts with "My spouse was deployed/underway when........."

    Truly, best of luck to you! Macie
    Sector NY, Staten Island
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