As a Coastie, I have traveled the States for the past 20 years going from coast to coast and one amazing adventure to another.
Read on in this blog to hear stories about my experiences living the Coast Guard life, not only as a military officer but also as a small town Midwestern girl who left home to enlist in the United States Coast Guard.
I look forward to hearing what you have to say about... My Coast Guard Career.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Coast Guard has a Blog!

Well, okay, they call it the Coast Guard Journal but none-the-less its online commentary from members of the Coast Guard about rescues, news, and activities displayed in reverse chronological order. Sounds like a blog, right? The only thing its basically missing is the ability for people to leave comments and links for the various terms, equipment, and documents referenced in the posts.

It is a recent addition to the revised U.S. Coast Guard homepage, which now has front-page links to RSS feeds, multimedia, and press releases.

Go Coast Guard!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Social Media

I digress from the Coast Guard for a moment to reflect on a hot topic right now in the world of communication - the use of social media to build relationships, hold conversations and foster interaction. As a communications graduate student at the University of Georgia where social media is actively being taught, I am beginning to understand and break ground in this vast topic.

Social media (or new media, digital media, Web 2.0, or whatever you want to call it) is the use of online collaborative multimedia to share a message. Social media is not just about blogs and Facebook but any sort of microblogging, wiki, social bookmarking, social networking, aggregator, slide sharing, video sharing, photo sharing, and podcasting tool.

Social media has empowered word-of-mouth communication. The Internet has opened up a new world for communications giving voice to the individual and reducing the control of organizations and traditional media. It is no longer about one way communications through press releases and news broadcasts but about two way communication through listening, interacting and engaging in the conversation.

Using social media requires a shift in perspective away from how traditional media is handled. Social media focuses on…

- Dialogue instead of monologue
- Community instead of audience
- Conversation instead of messages
- Transparency instead of spin
- Reputation instead of position power
- Participation instead of regulation

Published in 1999, the Cluetrain Manifesto is a 190-page book detailing how the Internet is changing business. It has some great points that can be easily and quickly reviewed using this slide presentation.

A much more enjoyable and lighter read is David Meerman Scott’s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR. It really opened my eyes to the power and possibilities of social media.

I look forward to continuing my journey, exploring the new world of social media. It can be a bit intimidating but also very rewarding.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

U.S. Coast Guard Jobs

When most people think of the Coast Guard they think of search and rescue and swimmers jumping out of helicopters to rescue people in the water. Ever since the movie The Guardian came out, people have been asking me if the Coast Guard is really like the movie. Well, the movie is a fictional and dramatic Hollywood movie and is not based on a real event or person, but if you want to know if the Coast Guard sends rescue personnel out to sea and puts trained swimmers into the water to perform search and rescue in extreme conditions, then the answer is yes. Like firefighters, police officers and other emergency services personnel, the men and women of the Coast Guard perform heroic duties in the line of duty to serve the people of the United States.

Check out this video to see a real rescue take place.

Although search and rescue is probably the most acclaimed and well-known job the Coast Guard performs it is only one among many other responsibilities. Here is a short summary of the different missions and responsibilities of the Coast Guard (see the Coast Guard's Web site for more detailed information).

Maritime Safety
- Search and Rescue
- Recreational Boating Safety
- Passenger Vessel Safety
- Port Security

Maritime Security
- Maritime Law Enforcement
- Drug Interdiction
- Migrant Interdiction

Maritime Mobility
- Aids to Navigation
- Icebreaking
- Bridge Administration
- Vessel Traffic/Waterways Management

National Defense
- Homeland Security
- Port and Waterway Security

Protection of Natural Resources
- Marine and Environmental Science
- Living Marine Resource Protection
- Marine Pollution Education, Prevention, Response, and Enforcement

Like any business or service, there are many other “behind the scenes” jobs going on as well. Beyond these missions and responsibilities, the Coast Guard has personnel handling human resource needs, maintenance, training and other logistical needs.

One of the best things about the Coast Guard is the opportunity to get involved in many different jobs within the service and not be stuck in one career path. Throughout my service, I have had jobs in recruit training, electronics maintenance, search and rescue, maritime homeland security, disaster recovery, marine environmental response and public affairs.

My experience in the Coast Guard has given me an invaluable opportunity to learn new things and serve my country. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Firsts and Lasts

As a Coastie, I have gone through many “firsts” and “lasts”. Since I move around every couple of years, you would think I would be used to starting fresh and to saying goodbye. Saying goodbye has definitely gotten much easier but starting fresh has seemed to get harder.

Starting fresh used to be really exciting and liberating. However, after the first five moves, the novelty wore off. Just as I would start to get used to a new town and to feel comfortable, I would have to pack up, leave and start all over again someplace new. Although it is typical in the military to be able to stay in one place for three to four years, I have relocated on average every 1.5 years because of promotions and opportunities (I have moved nine times in the past 14 years). This has probably played a significant role in my anxiety towards future relocations. Now, I long for geographic stability and a closet that desperately needs cleaning out… for the coffee shop where people know my name and I know theirs… or the chance to take a long walk with my Mom every night.

The downside of learning to say goodbye is the challenge of staying in touch and maintaining the friendships that I started. I miss so many of the wonderful people I have met along my journey and wish it were easier to keep them in my life. Even with all this great technology, if you can’t be physically near the ones you care about it is way to easy to fall out of touch.

So, as I say goodbye to another “last” (I am on the last Spring Break of my life) and get ready for another “first” (as I near graduation, another relocation and the start of a new career path), here is a shout-out to all those I care about but have lost touch with (that is if you are actually reading my blog…). I think about you all very often and wish we were still able to meet up for beers, card games, pool parties, holiday dinners, or whatever it is that we so enjoyed doing together. Even though I stink at staying in touch, you still mean the world to me.