Positive Reasons to Join the US Coast Guard
My journey from the time I decided to join the Coast Guard to the time I shipped off to basic training was relatively short. After meeting with a recruiter from all five branches of service, I decided on the Coast Guard. Their was no specific reasoning as to why I joined, it mostly came down to I felt the Coast Guard was the more unique branch at the time due to the lack of recognition and was interested in being apart of a service that had little to no coverage. As far as I am aware, I am the only relative in my bloodline that has been in the Coast Guard, so it was something unique for me. After all has been said and done, I am glad that this was the branch of service I went with of the five, and I attribute many of my successes today because of my time in. We all have different reasons to join the military, and why we choose the branch of services that we do. I believe its a general consensus that life in any of the branches is usually not easy for most. You will meet many active service members and veterans that have mixed beliefs and opinions as why to join. I will not focus on the negative aspects of the article, specifically it will be geared for those who are considering to join the US Coast Guard and some of the potential positive aspects and outcomes from doing a four year enlistment, a career, or something entirely different from being in.
Positive Reason #1 - The Pay
This especially applies to those who are just entering adulthood and are starting out in life. The pay you receive from the Coast Guard in most places will put you at average household income, or sometimes even above average depending where you live. Now I know some will dispute this claim, but if you know how or at least seek out advice on how to manage your money, you will do very well with the salary paid during your time in, especially if you are between 18 and 22. The pay charts for each rank are available to view online to the public, but that is only the tip of the iceberg to what you could potentially earn. In addition to the standard pay, you could receive a basic allowance for housing, or BAH, as the Coast Guard rarely has a barracks available. You could also receive, a food allowance, a cost of living allowance, sea pay, law enforcement pay, or hazard pay. The best part is that most of those are not taxable, so you keep every dollar you receive from it, and if you are careful, can never touch your basic pay at all. If you receive $1100 a month in BAH, and only pay $600 a month in rent, the extra $500 is yours to keep, as of the time of writing this. From my last station, my take home pay every month was around $3600, which I consider to be very good for someone in the 18 to 22 age range. While many of your peers are either drowning in college debt, or are barely able to make it off of working minimum wage, you should have little to no bills, and a healthy salary to start off life if you are wise about how you use it. While the job may not be pleasant, if you can survive your time in, and make good decisions while in, you can walk out of the military in a very healthy position.
Positive Reason #2 - Opportunity to Travel
Traveling is not for everyone, so do not like to travel at all, but if you are someone who is eager to travel to new places and gain some experiences from it, the Coast Guard may be a good option for you, and the best part is it is usually on the government's dime. Overseas travel is generally not as available to Coast Guardsmen as the other branches, but seeing a large portion of the United States is a good start. Most will eventually be stationed where they want, so if you have a particular location you would like to spend a few years in, their is a good chance you can be stationed there by simply requesting it. One aspect about the Coast Guard as well is transfers are usually not as frequent and unexpected as the other branches, so not only can you experience a new area, but you can be immersed and take in the new environment. A good way for someone to start off life with new adventures and experiences that can have a positive impact on your life. If you are someone that is ambitious about traveling, this might be a good option for you.
Positive Reason #3 - College
Paying for college out of pocket is scary, so many choose to go into the military to have their college paid for, and the Coast Guard is no exception. Not only can you be provided the benefits of having your college paid for from either the Montgomery G.I.Bill or the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill when your time ends, but you can take advantage of tuition assistance while you are in the service, and then continue your educational endeavors if you chose with your G.I. Bill once you are out of the military. This might especially work for you if you only plan to do one enlistment and leave once your time is fulfilled. While many of your peers could be spending the next several years paying off college debt, or may have a revelation they are paying for a degree they either did not want or need anyway, you could have your entire education potentially paid for on the government's dime. All this on top of whatever income you have saved from your time in. Not a bad position to be in still starting off life if that is the case for you.
Positive Reason #4 - Experience
I personally feel having lots of experiences in life is very important, both good and bad. If you can celebrate the good and take the lessons of the bad, you can ultimately become a better and more rounded person for it. Having lots of experiences I feel helps give you perspective on life and allows you to make more informed decisions, and rely less on ignorance. The military is a great way to gain on this, and being in the military in general is an experience that most people will never have, so automatically you will have insights that most will never have. It is no secret that the military can be very tough to make it through, no matter if you are in an office setting, or on the front lines, all give some value. If you are in the younger age ranges and complete or time in the military and decide to leave, you will have experiences that can carry you the rest of your life and will hopefully allow you to excel more in your time on the outside.
A common demographic I am reaching out to are those just out of high school or in young adulthood, and some of these may apply still if you are in your later twenties. These points are not meant to sell you into joining the Coast Guard, or the military in general, but rather some of the more positive examples that can be achieved if you use your time in wisely and make smart decisions. I personally only did one enlistment and decided to leave, as I felt it was no longer good for me to continue to stay in, but these examples have carried me through to today and you can potentially have these benefits as well. Even if you decide to make a career of the military, many of these examples can still apply to you. The military is not for everyone, and it is best to do your own research before going in, because once you are in, their is usually no going back for at least four years. If you are someone that feels you can make something of being in, and feel you can potentially become a better person and pivot yourself in a more positive direction in life on the outside, then this may be a good option for you, and one that I feel unfortunately does not reach many of those in high school. I hope you will find this information helpful and insightful.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.