Editor’s note: The introduction to this blog entry is based on actual events that resulted in misconduct. Please remember to support our newest and most vulnerable shipmates who rely on us for guidance and help.
Written by Lt. Heather Bacon-Shone, Force Readiness Command
A new Coast Guardsman proudly graduates from basic training. She shows up at her first duty station, eager to make a good impression and start her Coast Guard career. But after a few days, the shine starts to wear off – she’s far from home, isolated from friends and family and just doesn’t seem to fit in at her new unit. They’re too busy to help her with her quals, she can’t follow their conversations and they’re always hanging out with each other off-duty … but they’ve never invited her and she’s too scared to ask. Her friends and family are still proud of her but they’ve moved on with their lives, busy with day-to-day concerns that seem so remote now. They don’t really understand what her life is like. And what’s worse, it takes hours to get to the nearest big city. There’s just not much to do here outside of standing watch. She could really use a listening ear, some moral support …
“Our newly graduated recruits are some of our most vulnerable shipmates,” said Rear Adm. Scott Buschman, commander of Force Readiness Command. “What many of them need most at this crucial transition point in their life is a mentor, someone who can help them build professional relationships and establish their Coast Guard career.”
The person who sometimes fills this role for the new graduate is a former instructor or company commander and these professional relationships can be a source of considerable career benefit. However, in a small handful of situations, this professional relationship has been displaced by an inappropriate personal or romantic relationship.
In order to preserve these beneficial mentoring relationships, and more clearly define prohibited behavior, Buschman has issued a general order prohibiting romantic relationships between instructors (including former instructors) and recent graduates of recruit training. Any person who teaches or instructs at a FORCECOM training command is prohibited from establishing, developing or attempting to develop a romantic relationship with a graduate of recruit training within one year of that recruit’s graduation. The prohibition applies even if the new service member is not stationed at a FORCECOM training command or if the instructor later transfers to a non-FORCECOM unit.
“Respecting our shipmates is at the core of who we are as Coast Guardsmen,” said Buschman. “It is important to do all we can to foster a climate of professionalism and trust among all our shipmates, particularly the newest members of our Coast Guard family.”
Force Readiness Command, in Norfolk, Va., helps Coast Guard personnel create and improve proficiency at every step in their career, from their first day in the Coast Guard to their last, including accession training, “A” and “C” schools, and the Leadership Development Center including Officer Candidate School and the Chief Warrant Officer and Chief Petty Officer academies. As the core of proficiency in the Coast Guard, Force Readiness Command also develops and maintains instructions for all tactics, techniques, and procedures used in the Coast Guard; supports formal exercises; assesses and analyzes operational performance and readiness; and manages the Coast Guard’s armories and weapons systems. The unit includes over 40 subordinate units and more than 2,800 full-time and dedicated Coast Guard personnel.