The following blog was posted by Cmdr. Glynn Smith on behalf of Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara.
Over the weekend, I was honored to speak at the Coast Guard National Auxiliary Conference in Charlotte, N.C. The Coast Guard Auxiliary are the uniformed volunteers who devote significant time and energy each year supporting Coast Guard missions. They primarily work to create and sustain a safe and educated boating public by providing boating safety courses and conducting vessel safety examinations.
However, auxiliarists also perform operations such as safety patrols, search and rescue, environmental response, interpreter duties and communications watchstanding. Some chose to serve as unit ombudsmen, chefs and Coast Guard Academy admissions partners, more examples of the talents and skills they generously provide throughout the year. These are just a few of the ways that auxiliarists enhance the safety and security of our citizens, ports, waterways and coastal regions and the well-being of Coast Guard members.
During this Year of the Coast Guard Family, we have made a special effort to honor our loved ones at home who support us. Accordingly, we also recognize our Coast Guard Auxiliary families, because we know our volunteers sacrifice time with them in order to serve our Nation. The encouragement from husbands, wives, parents, siblings, children and other family members is essential to the readiness and availability of more than 31,000 auxiliarists.
So far this year, the Coast Guard Auxiliary has saved 106 lives and nearly $9 million in property. They have also conducted more than 75,000 vessel safety examinations. Auxiliarists have logged more than 316,000 operational hours in 2011; that’s an impressive accomplishment and doesn’t even include the countless additional hours they devoted to support, education and training.
As Admiral Papp emphasized in his vision statement for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, “We must always remember that it is through public spirit, patriotism and an uncommon sense of civic duty that the members of the Auxiliary give their time, facilities and services.”
The members of the Auxiliary are a truly exceptional group of Americans, and I thank them wholeheartedly for their service.
Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara
Coast Guard Vice Commandant