questions about joining the coast guard

Posted in the US Coast Guard Forum

Since: Apr 11

West Haverstraw, NY

#1 Apr 5, 2011
im 25 im thinking about joining the coast guard. i first got interested in the cg when i as a kid, i was at virginia beach and they use to do their search and rescue drills right on the water. its always been in the back of my mind. now is the time for me but i still want to know more (more than the recruiter has told me) before its written in stone.
if anyone could help me out thatd be great. here are some of my (many) questions....
-how often will i be able to see my girlfriend and family?
-what happens after boot camp, i want to be stationed in NJ, itd defeat my reason for joining if i wasnt able to stay here.
-is there a sign up bonus? im hearing conflicting answers.
-do i have to be married to my girlfriend for her to live with me while im on active duty, how does that whole thing work? i want to be able to be near her
-do they cover ALL medical? and if so am i only covered while im enlisted or is it for life, would my (future) family be covered also?

im sure im gunna have more questions so please be patient. im going on the 27th to meet a recruiter at a "career day" thing. i spoke with them today and set it up.
becky

Attleboro, MA

#2 May 10, 2011
My husband just joined the coast guard, and there are many things I still don't know for sure, but I guess I can help with a few of your questions. First of all, you should know that the coast guard is one of the hardest branches to get into. You need to have very good scores on your ASVAB, so you will want to study hard for your test. I am assuming you want to be active duty. I don't know how things work for reservists.
Now, as far as seeing your girlfriend and family depends on where you get stationed, whether it is a small boat station, a sector, or a cutter. If you are stationed in sectors or small boat stations you will probably be able to see them more frequently (keeping in mind how far you are from them). You will get more weekends off, and you get to go home almost every night. If you get a cutter, things are a little different. Depending on the size of the cutter you will stay out at sea more or less time (the bigger the cutter the longer you stay out). For instance, my husband is in a medium endurance cutter (210 ft). He has just left for his first patrol, and he won't be home for 6-8 weeks. When he comes back he still has to go to work, but it is only from 6:30am to 1:00pm.
You don't get a say where you get to be stationed, so if moving is not an option you need to forget about the military. They do give you the opportunity at boot camp to put down places where you would like to go, but that doesn't mean much. Besides, as far as I know the only base they have in NJ is the training center, and I don't think they will put in there someone who just got out of boot camp. Also, once you are a member of the coast guard you will have to put your name down for A-school, and once there is an opening for the school of your choice you will have to move to attend that school. Example, my husband wants to be in aviation, so once a spot opens up (in about two years from now) we will have to move to NC so he can attend school. After he is done, we will get stationed somewhere else. As you cam see, there is a lot of moving around involved.
There was no sign up bonus when my husband signed up (around October 2010), and he is prior military, so I doubt there is one.
As far as living arrangements, usually when you are single you get military housing, which means your girlfriend won't be able to live with you. After a while you can request to live off base, but it will be a while before you can request that. If you want to live with her the best thing to do is to get married (if you feel you are ready, obviously). Not only do you get a higher BAH (basic allowance for housing), but she will also get all the other benefits, such as medical and dental.
As far as the benefits go, you are entitled to them for as long as you are enlisted. If you retire from the Coast Guard then you and your family get to keep the benefits for life. Your kids will keep the benefits until they are either 18 or 21 (I am not sure about the exact age).
Overall, it is an amazing career, but it is a major commitment. The benefits are great, and they really take good care of you. Make sure you ask absolutely every question you have, because once you sign that contract you are stuck. There is no turning back. Good luck with everything, and I hope I was able to help!
Erin

Colorado Springs, CO

#3 Nov 28, 2013
Nobody studies for the ASVAB it is a standardized test and chooses where to place you ^ don't listen to her. My father is a Master Sergeant from the Vietnam war, never studied, my good friend in the USCG, never studied, it is a placement test. Not a source of anxiety.
Erin

Colorado Springs, CO

#4 Nov 28, 2013
Also, about not getting to choose where you get stationed, the USCG has something called a Dream Sheet, where you put down where you would love to go. Now. This does not guarantee your placement there. However. If you speak Spanish, chances are you will go south, CA, FL, Puerto Rico. Put this into perspective, compared to the other military branches, the number of people serving in the USCG is lower than the number of police officers in The NYPD. It is a very small service, and actually there is a very high chance you will get placed where you want.:) Good luck!

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