Throughout the month of April, Coast Guard Compass is highlighting the service’s efforts in sexual assault prevention and response as well as introducing you to members of the Service who dedicate themselves to supporting their shipmates and community.
Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Ligouri Daubenschmidt, Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team
I first became a victim advocate while I was stationed aboard Coast Guard Cutter Chase, a 378-foot high endurance cutter out of San Diego, Calif. As with many afloat units, it can be easy to get to know your shipmates when you live and work in such close proximity. It was because of this proximity that I embraced the role of a victim advocate and strived to know every member of the crew, along with my personal goal of being the type of person my shipmates felt comfortable going to when they needed help – job related or otherwise.
“Standing beside my Shipmates” means more than just performing the duties that your supervisors assign to you. It means getting to know the people you work with, understanding their personalities and frustrations, as well as their successes and achievements. When a shipmate needs to talk, needs to vent, needs an ear just to listen, standing beside your shipmate means you won’t judge them, but listen patiently while they confide in you their struggles.
If a shipmate who is normally upbeat, happy, and productive at work, comes in one morning and is visibly upset, take the time to ask if they are okay and what you can do to help. A simple show of support and a caring attitude can make a huge difference in the fast-paced environment that Coast Guard members work in.
Be the person that your shipmates go to for support and show them that you care about what is happening in their lives. You could be the one to keep a shipmate from feeling like they have no one to turn to – instead they have hope and a source of strength to overcome what they are struggling with.
At my current unit, Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team, I am still in the position of support for my shipmates. PACTACLET is a high operations tempo environment, where the mission and personnel change so quickly, it can be difficult to get to know team members.
As a victim advocate I talk to our members about watching out for each other, and how important it is to really take care during deployments as well as when they return home. One of the things that I share with my unit is that if you take care of your shipmates, they will do the same for you. There’s no better person to understand what a deployment is like than someone who is right beside you during a mission.
I do my best to represent the supportive shipmate we all should be, however every person has days where they feel like they are struggling with their own problems and they couldn’t possibly handle another person’s request for help. When there are days like this, it is so important to put our own feelings aside and be the support and strength others are looking for. Perhaps if you set the example in your work environment, when you need support from your shipmates they will be there for you, making sure you can handle your difficulties as well.