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.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Married in the Military

I continue to get wonderful e-mails from people who have questions about being in the Coast Guard. The latest e-mail came from a couple that wants to join the Coast Guard together and is concerned about collocation.

Chapter 4 (Section A.8) of the Coast Guard Personnel Manual outlines some nitty-gritty details about married active duty members, but basically the service will try to keep joint spouses together. Although I am not married, I know many couples that deal with collocation issues and have been very satisfied. From what I hear, the Coast Guard does a good job but there are NO GUARANTEES. Typically, if they cannot station you together then they at least try to put you within 100 miles of each other.

So, here is my take on collocation... It is highly possible, but there are some considerations.

First, it may limit your job options a bit. The Coast Guard is much smaller than other services (in fact, we are only roughly 2% of the entire armed forces) and may not have as many opportunities for married couples to be collocated. The cities with a large Coast Guard shore-based unit or multiple different Coast Guard units are your best option. This would include any city with a Coast Guard Area, District, ISC (Integrated Support Command), Sector office, or any city with a shore-based unit and a Coast Guard Cutter. The location of various Coast Guard units can be found on the Coast Guard’s homepage.

Second, consider your specialty. Simply put, enlisted members receive in-depth training for their selected specialty and then stay in that specialty throughout their careers. The various enlisted specialties can be found here. Coast Guard Officers usually have two different specialties and they alternate jobs between the two specialties. The specialties are Aviation, C4IT, Engineering, Finance, Human Resources, Intelligence, Legal, Management, Medical, Operations Afloat, Operations Ashore-Prevention, Operations Ashore-Response. This document can provide more information on Coast Guard Officer careers.

Third, consider your rotation cycle. Married couple will need to try and align their relocations to be at the same time. This can be a challenge since tour length depends on the assignment.

In a nut shell, as long as you can find a location that offers a position in both your specialties AND there is an opening that needs to be filled AND you are both due for reassignment, then you will most likely be stationed together.

As you can start to see, it does take some research and creative thinking by the married couple. It may sound difficult and nearly impossible, but I promise you it isn’t. I know many married couples who have had great success and a long, happy career.

I know the answer isn't simple, but I hope these resources prove helpful. I am always open to answering any questions, so let me know if you are still scratching your head...

Here are a few other resources I found that may help:
* FAQs about being joint spouses
* Information about being a Coast Guard Officer
* Information about joining the military

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