Dear Coast Guard Family: New Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Program

The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Program is now providing financial assistance to eligible families who are faced with out-of-pocket costs associated with shipping breast milk while the mother is away from home for more than 72 hours due to deployment, underway period, temporary duty, excused absences, or business trips.

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Once a month, the Compass will feature “Dear Coast Guard Family,” a column for Coast Guard families written by Coast Guard spouse, Rachel Conley. Rachel is married to her high school sweetheart, Chief Warrant Officer James Conley, and is the mother of three children. Rachel passionately serves as a Coast Guard Ombudsman and advocate of Coast Guard families. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the United States Coast Guard Ombudsman of the Year Award.

Thanks to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA), the official relief society of the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard-connected mothers will be receiving some financial relief of their own!

CGMA has implemented the Breast Milk Shipment (BMS) Expense Reimbursement Program to provide financial assistance to eligible families who are faced with out-of-pocket costs associated with shipping breast milk while the mother is away from home for more than 72 hours due to deployment, underway period, temporary duty (TDY), excused absences, or business trip – easing the burdens of mothers and families who already sacrifice so much.

This program is open to all active duty members, including Public Health Service (PHS) Officers and U.S. Navy chaplains attached to the Coast Guard, reservists on Active Duty for Operational Support (ADOS), and their spouses.  It is also available to Coast Guard civilian employees.  

Through this groundbreaking program, families can receive up to $750 per calendar year in breast milk shipping expense reimbursement, including costs incurred back to Jan. 1, 2019. Policy and detailed instructions can be found on the CGMA website. Applications for reimbursement and required documentation should be submitted directly to the local CGMA representative.  

Chief Operating Officer of CGMA, Sean Fennel, retired chief warrant officer, shared that the BMS Expense Reimbursement Program – the first of its kind – was created to help address known retention issues. 

“We heard back from one woman who actually got out of the service because of this issue,” said Fennel. “She would have stayed in if this program had been available at the time.”

“One of the orientations of CGMA is that we help our own and because this is something that is a hurdle for team Coast Guard, it’s something that CGMA wants to show up and be present to support the force in,” explained Ms. Erica Chapman, CGMA fundraising manager and education programs specialist. “Female retention has been a top priority for [Adm. Karl Schultz] – this program is just another way that CGMA can support the missions of the Coast Guard, by supporting the people.”      

This is far from the only way that CGMA supports the Coast Guard — they offer a wide range of programs.

“We have learned that people often know about certain programs, but they don’t know about all of the programs,” said Fennell. “We would like them to visit the website and discover all of the diverse areas that we reach into – education, all kinds of family support, and of course, we’re there for emergencies.”

From PCS child care reimbursement, to a special needs grant, to a layette program that provides items for newborns – they do it all! And, they’re open to developing new programs!  If you have an idea about how CGMA can help the Coast Guard community in a new, unique, and fundamental way – or if you have a positive CGMA experience to share – they’d love to hear from you!  

ALCOAST 215/19 – JUNE 2019 New Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) Reimbursement Program for the Shipment of Breast Milk

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