In the Coast Guard, Mentoring Begins Right out of the Gate

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VADM Sally Brice O'Hara, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, stands with Delta 184 Company. Brice O'Hara and Senior Chief Petty Officer Tracy Ripkey will serve as mentors for the recruits as they make their way through basic training. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
VADM Sally Brice O'Hara, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard, stands with Delta 184 Company. Brice O'Hara and Senior Chief Petty Officer Tracy Ripkey will serve as mentors for the recruits as they make their way through basic training. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The Coast Guard’s future is being honed today at Training Center Cape May, NJ, where new recruits are molded into apprentice Coast Guard men and women.  Their training is focused on military orientation, seamanship, firefighting, first aid, and marksmanship; subjects that will prepare them to serve on the water.

But it also includes interactive discussion on how to succeed in the Service and steer clear of problems – friendly advice – from operationally tested and seasoned mentor volunteers.  And for Recruit Company Delta 184, one of their co-mentors is none other than Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara, vice commandant, U.S. Coast Guard.  The other co-mentor is Senior Chief Petty Officer Tracy Ripkey.

Vice Adm. Brice-O’Hara and Senior Chief Ripkey visited Delta 184 on Saturday, Oct. 23, after the company completed its first two weeks of basic training, the toughest part of the instruction.  They spent about two hours answering questions and providing insights on Coast Guard service.

“I can’t emphasize enough that the Coast Guard needs you,” said Vice Adm. Brice-O’Hara to the recruits, adding, “We need your talent, we need your energy, and we need your enthusiasm.”

The Coast Guard operates a variety of ships, boats, aircraft and electronic systems around the world.  It uses these assets to perform a number of duties like saving lives at sea and protecting our coasts, assisting other government agencies like the Navy with patrols in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and responding to disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  However, none of these assets or duties would be effective without the men and women who perform, conduct and support the operations.  They are the common element that ensures the Coast Guard accomplishes its mission.

The Recruit Mentoring Program allows the Coast Guard to begin shaping its most important resource, people, early in their careers.  By helping them find the road to success more quickly, the Service is improving its ability to serve the Nation.

Vice Admiral Brice O'Hara addresses the recruits of Delta 184 Company during a mentoring visit. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Vice Admiral Brice O'Hara addresses the recruits of Delta 184 Company during a mentoring visit. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

“The Coast Guard is renowned for its professionalism, as well as its competence as a maritime, multi-mission, military organization, and that now includes you,” said Brice-O’Hara to the recruits.  “You are becoming men and women of character.”

This first mentoring session focused on meeting the recruits and developing a rapport.  Most of the recruit’s questions focused on assignments, duties and promotion opportunities.

For Vice Adm. Brice-O’Hara and Senior Chief Ripkey, however, it was important to help the recruits make sense of their first impression of military service and help them piece together the larger picture of how they contribute to the organization.  Basic Training is designed to rapidly transform and prepare recruits for Coast Guard service.  For many, it is quite a personal adjustment.

“Following orders is a habit that you need to develop right now, because when you go out and perform your Coast Guard missions, we are going to put you in some very trying circumstances,” said Brice-O’Hara to the recruits.  “There is not a single doubt in my mind that each of you will prevail and succeed.”

Vice Adm. Brice-O’Hara and Senior Chief Ripkey will visit Delta 184 after the fifth week of training and then again at graduation.

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