A few short weeks ago,
life for America changed for ever. Just as it did some 59 years ago,
Americans were shaken from compliancy by acts so horrific, they belie
simple explanations. Even back then, the USCG Auxiliary (then called
the Reserve) was playing a major role in recreational boating safety
and search and rescue.
Today, more than ever,
the Auxiliary may be just the place you want to be, helping both your
neighborhood and your country in a time of need. Make no mistake
about it, both the Coast Guard and your country need all the help it
can get, and not just for Homeland Defense, or to fight terrorism,
but in everyday aspects that we still take for granted.
While there is a new
heightened sense of security issues, all the other issues that were
present in your life still exist. Lets see if some of the
roles that the Coast Guard Auxiliary is involved with meets your
You can make your
opportunity in the USCG Auxiliary. Thats right, the Auxiliary
can provide you the opportunity to both learn new skills and provide
public service right where you live! All they ask is that you
volunteer. All you need to do is ask.
Training may take some
time, and some of the qualifications you may earn require additional
maintenance time, but with those exceptions there is no minimum
number of hours you need to commit.
Who joins the Auxiliary?
Men and women, who are US Citizens and over 17 years of age.
Professionals, students, retired people, retired military, teachers,
electricians, doctors, plumbers, lawyers, shipping clerks, computer
professionals. All walks of life join the Auxiliary, with the same
ultimate common goal.
The 38,000 men and women
who volunteer their time with the CG Auxiliary do so because they
want to make a difference. They want to make a difference in their
neighborhood and region. They care! And whats more important
is they have and continue to make a difference! Thats the
common goal, to make a difference.
I myself just joined the
Auxiliary. Why you ask? Because I, like most Americans saw the
World Trade Center disaster unfold on television. But in my case it
goes even further. I knew many of the responders (police, fire and
emergency medical workers) and used to be a member of NYCs
Emergency Medical Service. I also knew one of Americas heroes,
who died so others may live.
I was unable, unlike in
1993, to respond and assist. One of the first rules of rescue is
dont become a victim! The smoke and air quality was so bad,
that if I had gone and helped, I would have become a victim, instead
of a rescuer.
So I started to search
for an organization that was doing something about our
national crises. I have always been involved in public service, and
have been involved in recreational boating safety for the past 9
years. So I knew about the Auxiliary, but never thought it was right
I was wrong. I never
realized that the men and women of the Auxiliary back-fill almost
every job in the Coast Guard with the exception of direct law
enforcement and military activities. I didnt know Auxiliaries
were on duty at the Coast Guard office just a few blocks away from
the World Trade Center.
Within minutes of the
disaster these Auxiliarists and others from all over the metropolitan
region called their local stations and offered their assistance.
Immediately the Coast Guard used their force multiplier, the
volunteers who are the Auxiliary, to boost the number of boats,
planes and people available for all functions of the Coast Guard.
Within an hour of the
disaster CG Auxiliary vessels, which are privately owned boats,
manned by trained volunteers sped to the disaster to assist in
ferrying police, fire, medical personal, as well as supplies and
anything else needed. This was done as the regular Coast Guard
vessels were maintaining port security. If youre thinking you
have to spend a lot of money to be a member, youre wrong. As
long as youre on whats called reimbursable orders (in
other words, youre officially working), the Coast Guard will
reimburse you for certain expenses. Other expenses, such as uniforms
or equipment, are not reimbursed but are tax deductible (speak to
your tax advisor about this).
All over the country,
Auxiliary members were called in to assist the regular members of the
Coast Guard, as our Armed Force were put on high alert. As the
regular Coast Guard officers and enlisted were arming themselves and
going on security patrols, the Auxiliary members (who by law are
forbidden to participate in law enforcement and military actions)
took over all the other jobs.
Each member, who was
trained by either Coast Guard or Auxiliary trainers, used their
specific training to aid America. They went on Search and Rescue
missions. They handled the radio traffic, they did paperwork, they
moved supplies by vehicle, and they did perimeter patrols. The key
words here are that THEY DID!
So if youre like
me, and want to DO, instead of just sitting by and letting someone
else do it, then contact your local United States Coast Guard