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My Coast Guard
Commentary | May 9, 2023

Legal program unveils qualification insignia for military members, civilians

By AJ Pulkkinen, MyCG writer

The diverse activities of our judge advocates, civilian attorneys, and support professionals are vital to the Coast Guard’s missions and people. The new legal program military qualification insignia recognizes the Coast Guard’s military and civilian specialists in the field of law.

The insignia features a lighthouse, framed by a laurel wreath, with an overlapping quill and trident over rolling waves.

This is the second new insignia approved since the Commandant, Adm. Linda Fagan, encouraged the service to ensure all communities can earn insignia that honor their expertise. Insignias are worn on a member’s uniform, signaling that person’s professional achievement while creating esprit de corps.

What inspired the design of the insignia?

Central to the legal program insignia is a lighthouse, which harkens to the lighthouse insignia worn on the caps of light keepers of the U.S. Lighthouse Service from the 1840s. The lighthouse warns of unseen hazards and is a beacon of light, guiding weary mariners to safe harbor. Similarly, Coast Guard Judge Advocate General (CGJAG) professionals keep the Coast Guard and its members out of shoal waters and away from other hazards. Through their consistent deliberate counsel, they are a beacon in uncertain times. 

The light shining from the lantern room also calls to mind CGJAG’s role in bringing misconduct to light, ensuring the continued integrity of the service and maintaining public trust.

The laurel wreath is an ancient Greek symbol of achievement and honor.

The quill has been a long-recognized symbol of scholarly pursuits and is frequently associated with lawyers and clerks.  The trident represents the Coast Guard’s character as a multi-mission military sea service and invokes the Coast Guard’s diverse missions.

Who designed the insignia?

Though they considered a design proposal featuring a mystical sea monster that looks like a massive octopus (aka the kracken), CGJAG opted for the lighthouse-centric insignia designed by Lt. Cmdr. Brett McCall of Sector Detroit.  

Who can earn the insignia?

Judge Advocates designated by the Judge Advocate General and civilian attorneys assigned to a CGJAG position may wear the gold insignia.

Other officers, enlisted, and civilian professional staff who are designated by the Judge Advocate General may wear the silver insignia.

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