It really depends on the type of unit. Life at a small boat station is much different than life on a ship. Most boot camp graduates will receive orders either to a ship or a small boat station. At this point, they will start to perform the duties of a crewman at their unit. They must learn everything about their ship or small boat station. They may be assisting with law enforcement, working aids to navigation, conducting search and rescue, or responding to a natural disaster. Regardless of the unit, Coast Guard men and women live to uphold the motto Semper Paratus... always ready.
Your son or daughter can join on a full time (active duty) or part time (reserve) basis. Depending upon their citizenship, education level, or prior-military service, they may enter at either the enlisted or officer level. Potential enlisted members must have a high school degree or equivalent. Officer candidates must have or be working toward a college degree. Active-duty enlistees and officer candidates can select from among a variety of job specialties. Many officer programs are available targeting college sophomores and juniors, college graduates, those with professional degrees and aviation training, and current Coast Guard enlisted personnel with college degrees.
Basic training is tough. It's eight weeks of physical and mental challenges. We want to shape an individual into a fully prepared Coast Guardsman, who can take charge and react in the most harrowing situations. Upon graduation, he or she will be a stronger mentally and physically. After boot camp they will receive additional training depending upon their job specialty and enlistment status as either active duty or reserve.
All incoming Coast Guardsmen earn a competitive salary based on rank and additional benefits that are hard for young people to come by in the civilian world like free medical, dental and eye care, and for active- duty members, possible housing, meal and uniform allowances.
Deployment generally refers to an extended assignment away from your home base. Larger Coast Guard cutters may have extended deployments of up to three months or longer during which they patrol and visit other ports. However, mid-size and smaller cutters as well as air assets generally function in and around the home base where your son or daughter is assigned and generally deploy for a few days to a few weeks at a time.
During boot camp, letters are welcome, but care packages are not. Phone calls are not permitted unless it is an emergency. If there is a family emergency, you should contact your local Red Cross office who can relay messages to military personnel worldwide. Upon arrival at Cape May, a letter from the Commanding Officer is sent home by each recruit within the first few days of entering recruit training. In later weeks of basic training, recruits may be allowed to use pay phones at the discretion of their company commander. You are invited and encouraged to attend their graduation from basic training. After graduation and assignment to a unit, they can communicate with you during non-duty hours as they wish.
Their recruiter will provide instructions regarding both physical and mental preparation for basic training. They will also receive a copy of the Helmsman, a recruit guidebook, which details items that they can and cannot bring to basic training. The recruiter will help guide your son or daughter through the process. You can learn more about physically preparing for basic training by going to the following link.
The Coast Guard does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. Members are allowed to participate in religious services as the mission permits.
The Coast Guard is proud to have fully integrated women in our operations at all echelons since 1978. The Coast Guard recognizes that our mission readiness is directly tied to the health and well-being of our service members and that childbirth can be a challenge for women in the service. Accordingly, the Commandant has directed eligible members be authorized up to 12 weeks of maternity leave following the birth of a child.
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