The Coast Guard celebrates 223 years of service to the nation this Sunday and is an opportunity to reflect upon the men and women who serve in America’s Coast Guard. In honor of our service’s birthday, we reached out to Coast Guard men and women and asked them to write an essay based on the prompt “Why I serve.”
Our first entry was written by Seaman Recruit Natallia Lopez during week six of basic training at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. Lopez graduated with Recruit Company Kilo 188 July 26, and will be assigned to the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras where she will complete her bachelor’s degree in environmental science as part of the Coast Guard College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative. After she graduates, she’ll attend Coast Guard Officer Candidate School at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.
Written by Seaman Recruit Natallia Lopez.
When people think about the United States Coast Guard, they envision a rescue saving, action packed military branch that protects our waters, our coastal resources and the people of the United States. However, despite all of this being true, it does not fit the picture entirely. The Coast Guard’s multi-missions and dedication to the safety and security of the American people play a significant role in the defense of our nation. However, to me, it’s the Coast Guard’s dedication to its servicemembers and their families that portray the biggest impact on our country. The Coast Guard saved my mother’s life; it was not through any special operation nor was it through a search and rescue mission. Instead, the Coast Guard saved my mother by providing care and assistance when she was battling breast cancer. The service’s commitment is something I will be eternally thankful for.
I always knew the Coast Guard took care of their members because I am a daughter of a Coast Guardsman, but it was not until my mom was diagnosed with cancer that I fully comprehended how truly devoted the Coast Guard is to their members but not only that, how they take all measures possible to ensure the wellbeing of Coast Guard family members as well.
When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, it was a very difficult time for my family. Just like any other person who is diagnosed with this disease, it’s a time where the person and the family are going through a mix of emotions and are unsure of the outcome of the situation. Cancer is a very costly illness; and although we received Tricare, all the treatments my mother needed to receive created a financial burden on my family. Also, just about the same time my mother was diagnosed with cancer, my father received orders to a new unit. My mother had just started her treatments in Puerto Rico, and my father made the difficult decision to go alone to his new unit leaving us behind in order to keep providing for our family. His decision was really hard on all of my family, but because of his devotion to his service, we all understood this was something that had to do to serve his country.
During this difficult time of separation, the Coast Guard aided my family in so many ways; they provided my mother with all her treatments and were also able to grant my father special orders, which allowed him to come back to his old unit so he could take care of us during those difficult times. If it was not for the Coast Guard and their help, there may have been a different outcome for my mother and our family. The Coast Guard saw how much my father was sacrificing for the honor to serve, so they ensured he got the support he and our family needed because it is a service of understanding and caring people.
When I saw what the Coast Guard did for my family, I knew that I had to demonstrate my gratitude. It encouraged me to become part of the United States Coast Guard. I want to serve and give the Coast Guard all my skills and knowledge by providing for them just as they provided for me. When I found out about the College Student Pre-Commissioning Program, I applied and have not even once regretted any of the choices I have made. It’s been a long, hard summer, but every single day I am grateful for being given the opportunity to train and serve in the United States Coast Guard; a service that I can truly say I also owe my life to.