Written by Anne B. Brengle, president, Coast Guard Foundation.
Last night, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp joined personnel from across the 13th Coast Guard District for the Coast Guard Foundation Pacific Northwest awards dinner. It was an inspiring celebration of the quality people who serve our nation in the Coast Guard, but the dinner itself only scratches the surface of what the Foundation does to support the men and women of the United States Coast Guard.
The Federal government and the U.S. Coast Guard provide our brave service members with the tools and training they need to be mission-ready, and the Foundation, through its programs and services, works to ensure those same people who sacrifice so much have the necessary resources available to lead full and productive lives.
In the Pacific Northwest alone, Coast Guard families have a safe place to play and build a sense of community because of the work of two new playgrounds built by the Coast Guard Foundation: one at the Air Station in Port Angeles, Washington, and another at Group North Bend in Oregon. The Foundation has also funded smaller projects for units and cutters, such as furnishing complete fitness centers for the Aids to Navigation Team in Kennewick, Wash., the Coast Guard base in Seattle and Coast Guard Cutter Fir, as well as providing fishing gear to crew members of Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo to use on their off time.
In addition to these morale projects, the Coast Guard Foundation is committed to supporting the higher education goals of Coast Guard members and their families. In 2010, five children of Coast Guard members stationed in the 13th District were awarded scholarships, and 60 Coast Guard members in the region received grants for continuing education. Over the past several years, the Foundation has given out scholarships worth more than $50,000 to students who originally hail from the Pacific Northwest. It’s an honor to help these exceptional young men and women attain their dreams of higher education, and this support continues in 2011, with more Coast Guard members and their families receiving education assistance.
Sadly, last year, the Coast Guard community was struck by tragedy when rescue helicopter CG-6017 crashed in La Push, Wash. on its way to Sitka, Alaska, killing three crew members. In the wake of this awful event, the Foundation was there to aid the families of the fallen, helping them shoulder the burden of traveling far distances to attend memorial services for their loved ones. In years to come, the Foundation will draw upon its Fallen Heroes Scholarship fund to benefit the children affected by the crash, helping pay for their education when they reach college age. We are humbled and honored to help these families in their time of need.
In total, across the service, the Foundation awarded approximately $900,000 in Coast Guard Foundation Shipmate Fund grants, education grants for enlisted members, and scholarships for children of enlisted personnel last year.
It was truly an honor to recognize the bravery and service of the Coast Guard members who serve and we are proud to partner with the Coast Guard, its members and their families, in service to the nation.