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.”
So far we’ve shared perspectives from a new recruit, a lifesaver and a reservist. Today we bring you the story of two civilians – each a critical part of maintaining mission readiness – who support the service in their own unique ways. This essay is from Amanda Currence, an obmudsman in the 5th Coast Guard District .
Written by Amanda Currence.
My mother tried to teach me how to cook at a very young age, but I always responded with, “I don’t have to learn how to cook! I’m gonna marry me a cook to do that.”
I would get several laughs, and most responded with, “Yeah right!” Well, I met my then-future husband many years later and after eight months of knowing each other he joined the Coast Guard … as a food service specialist.
After some very unsuccessful attempts at a long distance relationship I moved to Gulfport, Miss., to be with Michael who was stationed on Coast Guard Cutter Decisive. My father was an engineer in the Army, my maternal grandfather was in the Air Force and my paternal grandfather was a chaplain in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, so I knew what to expect with the military but I was quickly thrown into the military lifestyle in a way I had never experienced.
We got married, got pregnant and then found out we were moving to Atlantic City, N.J. So in 10 months I moved from Tennessee to Mississippi to New Jersey. After being here a couple of days, our son, Wyatt, decided to make his arrival. We were new to Coast Guard Station Atlantic City – my husband had just reported aboard the day before – and we didn’t even know where the hospital was. It was a whirlwind of emotions. Then, at the end of October, just when we were getting used to things, Hurricane Sandy hit us.
Of course, my husband knew what to do, but I didn’t. I had never dealt with a storm like that and was panicking. We did not have someone to help us when we moved, a referral list for hospitals or doctors or even someone to explain evacuation plans.
When the ombudsman position became available I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to help the command connect with the families, to create a family atmosphere with everyone and I wanted to be involved in a bigger way. I didn’t want another family going through the same things we did when we first arrived and when we got hit with a natural disaster.
So, I wanted to make my dad and both of my grandfathers proud, and since joining the service is unrealistic for me at this point in my life, I thought this would be perfect. Ombudsmen play vital roles in the Coast Guard and I never knew how much of a responsibility it really would be.
I am very thankful that I have been blessed with a co-ombudsman. Lindsey is not only going to law school and taking care of her kids, but she has helped me tackle this responsibility and been such a huge help. Our station has never had an ombudsman before, let alone two!
Starting up has been difficult but we have a great support system and we are looking forward to bringing the families of Station Atlantic City and its seasonal unit Station Great Egg together and utilizing all the resources we have at our fingertips.