Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Charly Hengen
“We want to stay here as long as we can,” said Casey. “This place is very much in tune with our family. We are outdoorsy people and I actually love the Kodiak mist better than the sunshine.”
Kodiak is a one-of-a-kind place that either people love or they hate. But for Casey and her family, they chose to purchase a home because her and her husband, Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Lawrence, plan to retire in Kodiak.
“You just can’t beat the community in Kodiak,” said Casey. “Over and over, I have seen people rally around a person, family, or organization in need and the giving is unwavering. If you truly embrace what Alaska has to offer, it makes you push your personal boundaries. I’ve hiked, hunted and fished my whole life, but here, there’s a whole new level of expertise required. You get to do all these things in surroundings people save their whole lives to see. We have been so blessed to experience all of these things as a family.”
She would not be where she is now, if it was not for her desire to join the military. Casey had several family members in the Army or Navy, but all were men. No females in her family were in the military, so she decided to shake things up.
Her original plan was to enlist right out of high school, but sometimes, life happens and plans change. However, it didn’t stop her. She married the man of her dreams and after he joined the Coast Guard in 2008, she followed suit a little over a year later. Even with a 2-year-old daughter at home, she still wanted to join the Coast Guard.
Casey Lawrence and her husband Justin, also a Coast Guard member, love all that Kodiak, Alaska, has to offer in regards to fishing, hiking and hunting.
“It was very difficult to leave a 2-year old at home,” said Casey. “I wrote letters every day and did everything I could to maintain contact. And, I felt like my company commanders honed in on the fact that I was a mom missing my child for the mental health aspect of making sure I was okay.”
After boot camp, Casey went to Coast Guard Baltimore Yard, decided to become a yeoman, and was encouraged to join the Coast Guard Enlisted Association. From there, she and Justin went to Elizabeth City, North Carolina. While at Base Elizabeth City, Lawrence took over that CGEA branch as the president.
“I have been in some sort of non-profit work since I was two,” said Casey. “I love it and while in the CGEA, I have gotten amazing opportunities to help those in need, both inside and outside of our military gates.”
While in Elizabeth City, she was appointed as the national treasurer, and it was during this time she decided to run for the national CGEA president position when it came open for election. She ran and she won that position in 2018, which she will hold for three years. Justin also serves in the CGEA as well.
“He has served in many capacities at the branch level, including the Elizabeth City branch president, while I served as a national officer, and our children have volunteered at CGEA events and activities, so that makes the CGEA a family endeavor for us,” said Casey. “The same goes for our national conventions, as I have made such amazing friends and have been blessed with so many mentors, through these conventions. Plus, it’s exciting to have an opportunity to incite change, through communicating with Coast Guard senior leadership at the convention as it’s important to both our association and our organization.”
Casey and her family are Coast Guard through and through, as it’s shown through their involvement in the CGEA and volunteer work.
Through her Coast Guard years, she has stayed focused on improving her Coast Guard career and keeping her family resilient. She has been able to accomplish this by being involved in the community and loving the Alaskan outdoors. Whether it’s berry picking, fishing for salmon, bear viewing, hiking the Kodiak trails, or camping off the road system, Casey and her family are glad they achieved their goal of living in Alaska – as it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.