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My Coast Guard
Commentary | July 7, 2022

New qualification insignias will acknowledge members’ specialty accomplishments

By Annie Sheehan, MyCG Writer  

The Coast Guard is expanding the opportunity for members to earn qualification insignia. 

Insignias are recognition worn on a member’s uniform, signaling that person’s professional achievement while creating esprit de corps. Many communities already have specialized pins, including aviation, afloat, tactical law enforcement, marine safety, and boat forces. But members with advanced expertise in other areas – including intelligence, cyber, response ashore, legal, civil engineering, and others – have gone without recognition of their accomplishments.

This initiative gives more members the opportunity to participate in a time-honored service tradition. It’s part of the Commandant’s vision to make the Coast Guard more inclusive by ensuring all communities can earn insignia that honor their expertise.  

“Qualification insignia are an important part of recognizing the hard work and commitment to career excellence by many of our Coastie professionals – civilian, enlisted, and officer – that has previously not been there,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Parker of the Office of Shore Forces. 

The process to establish and approve insignia criteria will take some time. “While everyone’s very excited for this opportunity,” said Parker, “many offices are working from scratch to develop common guidelines, requirements, and designs.” 

The service is directing all programs that manage primary officer specialty codes without an insignia to create one. These programs will develop criteria for their respective specialties that align with at least the rigor of the officer specialty journeyman-level requirements. 

Rating Force Master Chiefs will be engaged early on in the process to ensure that specified criteria offers an opportunity for enlisted members to earn insignia after demonstrating a level of knowledge, training, and experience similar to the precedent set for officers. 

Program offices will also determine whether insignia criteria may be applicable to the civilian workforce and will define civilian-specific standards as appropriate. Ensuring that criteria is sufficiently rigorous and reflective of significant professional achievement is paramount to safeguarding the meaning and standard of insignia. 

The expansion brings the Coast Guard in line with the other Armed Services insignia programs to cover more specialty workforces. 

Lead program offices will submit their qualification insignia packages by Sept. 1. Once criteria are approved, programs will begin to design the new insignia.