Once a month, Coast Guard Compass will feature “Dear Coast Guard Family,” a column for Coast Guard families 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.
April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to honor and recognize the unique sacrifices and incredible resilience of military children. Coast Guard children have felt the pain of a hard good-bye, they have transferred to different and far-off places – learning to “bloom where they are planted” in new schools and communities, they have experienced the joy and anticipation of a long-awaited reunion, and now, in the midst of it all, Coast Guard children and their families are navigating the uncharted waters of a global pandemic.
As a mother of three, I am blessed to witness the incredible resilience of military children firsthand.
Here’s my letter to them. I hope that it’s meaningful for you, too!
You’ve said goodbye. More times than I can count. You’ve moved from one side of the country to the other, and then back again. You’ve lived in big cities and small towns. You’ve experienced different schools and communities. You’ve lived a life full of transitions. You’ve been treated by doctors around the country, each with different opinions. You’ve lived thousands of miles away from extended family and friends. You’ve frequently celebrated special occasions on alternate dates. You adapt. You overcome. You exhibit great courage, strength and determination. You didn’t choose a life of service, but you live it so admirably. I promise that I will be your constant. I will set the tone. I promise to LIVE this life with grace and positivity. For you. Although your father’s absence is felt in each and every moment that he’s gone – we are immensely blessed to have such an incredible husband and father to miss. Truly, ‘how lucky [we are] to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’ I promise to be silly with you, to play often, to hug you tightly, to kiss you gently, to snuggle you closely – not just for me, but for your father went he can’t physically be with us. He misses you more than words can describe. I promise to teach you that the hard days are only a moment in our lives and to always look for the good (it surrounds us!). I hope that your life is enriched by your unique “military child” experiences. I hope that through your many sacrifices, you have learned the true value of time and what’s most important in life. Please know that the scenery may change, but we will always have each other. You are loved immeasurably. We could not be more proud of you.
Resources for Coast Guard Children:
The Navy MWR Library Program offers a variety of FREE online resources: music streaming, ebooks and audiobooks, digital magazines, foreign language, educational resources, and more!
Dear Coast Guard Family: Transferring Schools offers tips and resources to support military-connected students.
Sesame Street for Military Families is a free, bilingual (English and Spanish) website where families can find information and resources on military-specific topics.
Military Kids Connect (MKC) is an online community for military children (6-17 years old) that provides access to age-appropriate resources to support children dealing with the unique challenges of military life. MKC offers activities, helpful videos, and an online community that can build and reinforce understanding, resilience, and coping skills.
Coast Guard Mutual Assistance is the official relief society of the U.S. Coast Guard. Check out their excellent programs, including a PCS child care expense reimbursement program, a special needs grant, adoption assistance, a breast milk shipment program, and a layette program for our littlest Coasties!
Tutor.com for U.S. military families is a program that provides on-demand, online tutoring and homework help at no cost to eligible service members and their dependents thanks to funding provided by Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. With live, expert tutors available 24/7, military-connected students can receive academic help at their moment of need – anywhere they have an internet connection.
Coast Guard Work-Life provides a number of family support programs, including an adoption reimbursement program, a scholarship program, a school liaison program, child care resources (including a child care subsidy program), and more!
The Military Child Education Coalition offers a variety of free resources to support parents and students, including webinars, SchoolQuest, and more! Through the special needs program, efforts are made to ensure that members with special needs dependents are assigned to duty stations where medical and community services are accessible and available.