My Coast Guard

Dear Coast Guard Family: Month of the Military Family | Coast Guard Families Give Thanks

By Rachel Conely


During the month of November and throughout the year, we recognize and celebrate our incredible Coast Guard families.  

Around the world, military families are waiting by the phone or computer for word from their service member. A child is taking their first step, while their parent serves abroad. Holidays and special occasions are celebrated on alternative days. Spouses are lovingly tending to the homefront. Many are facing hard “goodbyes” and experiencing sweet “hellos.”  

Although their days aren’t always easy, they persevere.  They stand beside their service member, and during times of deployment, they stay behind. They admirably live a life that many people cannot begin to imagine – exhibiting great courage, strength, determination, and resilience!   

And, throughout this journey of military life, they’ve discovered a lot to be thankful for.  

The Brown FamilyChristy Brown: “We have been doing this Coast Guard life as a family for 14 years now. We have lived in Boston, Virginia (Hampton Roads and DC area) and San Antonio, Texas. The thing I have come to love most about this life is exploring new places. At each new duty station, we have made an effort to learn about the area and get out and experience it. We visit state and national parks, museums, and local attractions. We make sure we try local foods and specialties. All four of us love getting to have these new experiences. Every time we pack up it is bittersweet. We know we will miss the place we have been but look forward to new adventures!”

Mary Charpek: “In fall 2012, my husband and I met by pure fate while both stationed in Boston as non-rates. Life has been quite the adventure since then, spending months apart, being stationed cross country twice, adding a future Coastie to the family and through wildfire and hurricanes you could say life in the Coast Guard is a wild ride, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have met some of the most amazing and supportive friends along the way that have become our second family. North Carolina is where we are happy to call home for the time being and we cannot wait to see where the Coast Guard lets us call home next.”

Winter Clapsaddle: “I’m most thankful for the sense of unity and pride that comes with being part of the Coast Guard family. Whether it’s on a cutter, behind a desk, or The Clapsaddle Familydeploying in major disasters, we will all stand Semper Paratus.”

Brooke Gonzales: “When it comes to the Coast Guard life, I am most thankful for the lessons it has taught me as a spouse, mother and friend. It has taught me nothing is in my control. How to adapt when deployments or unscheduled duty nights pop up. It’s taught me to be patient and stay positive - knowing it will all work out in the end. I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve been a part of, the communities we have been involved in and the unity as a whole. We have lived this life for almost 22 years and I wouldn’t change one thing about it. I’m also thankful that the Coast Guard life has also taught our two daughters life lessons/skills like resilience, adaptability, patience and respect. I’m sure with these instilled in their everyday lives it will help them be successful adults. There’s a special bond between Coasties and I’m thankful to be part of such an amazing group of people.”

Kayla Lawrey: “I am thankful for resources! Having no out-of-pocket costs for visits to specialists, the emergency department, mental health providers or PCM, cancer treatments, immunotherapy, surgeries, PT, and free military treatment facility (MTF) medications are literally lifesavers. Our providers can be difficult to find, but the services they provide are what I am most thankful for as a Coastie Wife.”

Kenz Lawrey (9 years old):The Malphrus Family “I am most thankful for the Coast Guard helping me travel. Exploring Guam is my top favorite! Flying on a KC-135, with the Air Guard crew from Pennsylvania was the best, Daddy-O is from Pennsylvania.”

Crystal Malphrus: “I am thankful that the Coast Guard has moved us to so many beautiful places - even though they may not have been the top of our list.  Every place has a special place in my heart.  Thankful for the many friendships we have made along the way as well!”

Melissa Peterson: “During such a unique year I find myself reflecting on how military families in general are so much better prepared to deal with all of the aspects of pandemic life. This November, while I miss being with family once again, I am thankful for the resilience and flexibility our children and I have acquired throughout our military journey. I am thankful that we are familiar with quality friend time through phone calls and videos because our friends are scattered across the globe.  I am thankful that we've learned to lean on each other and on God. I am thankful for the sacrifices my Coast Guardsman has made for our country and the adventures that have ensued as a result. While this year has been tough, I am thankful that through his service we have been prepared to handle it with grace. As a Coast Guard family, we know in our hearts that this is just a season and like the tides of the Gulf, it will recede just a quickly as it appeared.”The Steenbergen Family

Elycia Steenbergen: “I am thankful for the abundant opportunity we are afforded to be a blessing to those we find around us, and to live life with this perspective - that it is not about us, but all about others. Over the years, as we have moved in and through new communities and neighborhoods, our life of service truly has become our life’s goal and mission; and that is to love, care, serve and support onThe Weigand Familye another! People are precious and I am also thankful for the special friendships and connections we are able to make because of the Coast Guard Life.”

Hannah Weigand: “This year we have so many things to be thankful for. While 2020 has certainly brought in its challenges for us, it has also brought some great memories into our family. My husband has deployed a little less giving him more opportunities to participate in family time, bond with our son in ways he wasn't able to before. We are together, healthy, and spent time mapping out our family goals to strive for over the next couple of years. We are excited to see what the new year brings in!”