Commentary | Sept. 9, 2021

BZ: USCG and DHS partners hold successful local back-to-school backpack drive helping nearly 300 children, and more

By Nicole Bertrand, MyCG writer

USCG and DHS partners hold successful local back-to-school backpack drive helping nearly 300 children. Hats off to members of the USCG and partners at DHS who helped the children at Turner Elementary School in Washington, D.C. start the year on the right foot. The tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts from Rear Adm. Carola List, executive champion for St. Elizabeth’s Back-to-School Backpack Drive, and the hundreds of volunteers from the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) who donated 289 backpacks and supplies worth thousands of dollars, along with those who helped pack them, made all the difference in spreading joy to the children and easing financial burdens on families. While the Coast Guard has been loading backpacks and donating school supplies on a yearly basis to benefit the Southeast D.C. community, the event marks the first time that it was linked with the Coast Guard’s Partnership in Education (PIE) Program. PIE unites the Coast Guard family with local schools and communities through opportunities to work directly with students, enhancing educational opportunities and raising awareness about the service. “We look forward to building off of the success of our first event together, and are always looking for new opportunities to grow with Turner Elementary, as well as other schools in our community,” said Chaplain Andrew Hoyle, Coast Guard headquarters' PIE coordinator. “We hope to build new partnerships and engage our existing partners as much as we can so that we can generate even more volunteer efforts from the Coast Guard team. Our ultimate goal is to support our D.C. communities and the children in our National Capital Region (NCR) schools.” Congratulations on a successful event! This is just one more example of how the Coast Guard is making a difference in so many people’s lives. For more information on Coast Guard headquarters' PIE program, please email Chaplain Andrew Hoyle at. If you’re interested in the PIE program, but located outside of the National Capital Region, please email Shawntell Williams, the PIE program manager at .

Summer joint service cyber event proves to be a success. Coast Guard Cyber Command (CGCYBER) culminated a summer of joint and interagency exercises by completing Cyber Shield, the largest Unclassified Department of Defense (DoD) cyber defense exercise July 23, 2021. Coast Guard participation was spearheaded by 1790 Cyber Protection Team (1790 CPT) which reached full operational capability in May of 2021. “Exercising across the joint force, interagency, and stakeholder groups is an integral part of our operational readiness equation,” said Rear Adm. Michael Ryan, commander Coast Guard Cyber Command. “Coast Guard elements, including 1790 CPT, performed spectacularly alongside their cyberspace operational force colleagues and elevated the outcomes of the exercise play.” The summer kicked off with CGCYBER’s inaugural participation in the Cyber Yankee Exercise hosted by the Massachusetts National Guard. Cyber Yankee took place at Joint Base Cape Cod and focused on training military members and civilian agencies to combat cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure in the New England region. Concurrently, CGCYBER participated in the Cyber Dawn Exercise in Sacramento, California, hosted by the California and Nevada National Guard. The exercise provided a dynamic and realistic training environment that enabled participating teams to assess their preparedness in responding to a simulated cyber-attack affecting the West Coast and Southwest FEMA Regions. The summer was rounded out by 1790 CPT Coast Guard Districts 11 and 13 participating in the Cyber Shield 2021 Exercise focused on developing, training and exercising cyber forces in the areas of computer network internal defensive measures and cyber incident response. Cyber Shield was an international event encompassing over 750 participants from National Guard Units as well as international partner nations, state and local governments and other federal agencies.

Military to Mariner (M2M) program issued the first set of course completion certificates for Lifeboatman Limited and Able Seaman endorsed ratings in August. Bravo Zulu to Petty Officer 2nd Class Jack Streeter for distinguishing himself by completing the course. The M2M program assists active duty, reserve, and veterans in capitalizing on their service experience in pursuit of merchant mariner credentials through the National Maritime Center. It continues to develop new courses for Coast Guard personnel to demonstrate their knowledge and skills and complete credentialing requirements. The program helps members navigate the credentialing process, including applying for financial assistance for Transportation Worker’s Identification Credential. For each M2M course, Streeter completed various requirements like the Watchstation Qualification Standard (WQS) Deck Addendum and then requested the final course exam. It took Streeter about two months to complete the WQS requirement and he had already met the other course requirements through his qualifications. “If you are a [boatswain’s mate] and don’t use it you are selling yourself short,” said Streeter. “[Boatswain’s mates] sometimes joke that their experience won’t equate to anything outside the military, but that isn’t true. If you have merchant mariner credentials you open up many possibilities for yourself in maritime work.” To learn more or if you have questions, you can email the M2M program at . Be sure to read more on the M2M program here

Labor Day offered an opportunity to remember the strength, resilience, and contributions of the Coast Guard workforce. Labor Day was established to pay tribute to the American worker and celebrate the social and economic achievements of the American Labor Movement. Recognizing those who came before us and who helped change the way we work today is fundamental. It enables us to look broadly at where we started and allows us to appreciate how far we have come. The resiliency of the American worker is astounding. From the Great Depression to the Great Recession, and now, through COVID, the American labor force continues to persevere and so does our Coast Guard. The Coast Guard can boast 41,700 active-duty military; 7,800 reserve military part-time employees; 8,300 civilian full-time employees; and 31,000 civilian auxiliary volunteers, all working to help the Coast Guard carry out its duty as America’s maritime first responder. On an average day, the Coast Guard:

  • Conducts 45 search and rescue cases;
  • Saves 10 lives;
  • Saves over $1.2M in property;
  • Seizes 874 pounds of cocaine and 214 pounds of marijuana;
  • Conducts 57 waterborne patrols of critical maritime infrastructure;
  • Interdicts 17 illegal migrants;
  • Escorts 5 high-capacity passenger vessels;
  • Conducts 24 security boardings in and around U.S. ports;
  • Screens 360 merchant vessels for potential security threats prior to arrival in U.S. ports;
  • Conducts 14 fisheries conservation boardings;
  • Services 82 buoys and fixed aids to navigation;
  • Investigates 35 pollution incidents;
  • Completes 26 safety examinations on foreign vessels;
  • Conducts 105 marine inspections;
  • Investigates 14 marine casualties involving commercial vessels;
  • Facilitates movement of $8.7 billion worth of goods and commodities through the Nation’s Maritime Transportation System.

Thank you to all of you who make the Coast Guard what it is today! For more on the history of Labor Day, please see the Labor Day ALCOAST 314/21.