Accelerating support for the Coast Guard Act


Krystyna Duffy witnessed how the January 2019 government shutdown affected her crew at the US Coast Guard station in San Francisco.

“It didn’t affect me as much, but it affected the junior members who are less fortunate and have less than me,” recalls Duffy, who is now a boatswain at the Coast Guard station in Coos Bay. , Oregon. “Some of the challenges during the shutdown was making sure our teams were fed and had enough supplies. We ended up coming together more as families to help each other and also reaching out to communities to support our members.

The 40-member crew crews the Coast Guard station, always ready to answer a call.

“The beauty of the Coast Guard – even without pay – is that many of us have joined to serve,” she said. “Every day was a challenge, knowing that the members weren’t being paid, but we made the most of it. We still answered the call and supported the call.

Duffy was among Coast Guard members who met and spoke with American Legion National Commander Vincent J. ‘Jim’ Troiola during his visit to western Oregon the week of Nov. 14. The Legion’s ongoing efforts to ensure Coast Guard members will be paid during another outage was a common theme during the commander’s visits to three stations.

“These relationships are amazing,” Duffy said. “It means a lot to us to have the support, especially if there is another government shutdown.”

Coast Guard personnel perform missions vital to national security, but they serve in the only military branch to work without pay during government shutdowns. This is because their status falls under the Department of Homeland Security. During the 35-day shutdown, which ended Jan. 25, 2019, the American Legion raised and distributed more than $1 million in grants for Coast Guard personnel facing financial crises.

Now, the American Legion is urging Congress to reintroduce and pass the Unwavering Support for Our Coast Guard Act, which would ensure Coast Guard personnel are paid without delay during a government shutdown.

Troiola is unwavering in his resolve for his passing.

“To me, they’re no different,” he said. “They should be part of the Ministry of Defence. I don’t think many Americans realize the drug trade and search and rescue. They put their lives on the line for us, just like other branches of the military do. They defend our shores, our borders. It’s quite a job. They work hard.

The commander stressed that Coast Guard members are in the military and should be paid whether the funding comes from Homeland Security or the Department of Defense. “This money must be allocated. They (Congress) need to get to work and we need to advocate and keep pushing for that,” he said.

Troiola spent time talking one-on-one with Coasties to better understand their needs beyond the Coast Guard Act.

“They told me they could use housing assistance and more boats,” he said. “It’s difficult to get new boats. This has just been refurbished. They’ve only had it for three months,” Troiola said, referring to a 47ft Class C motor lifeboat he drove earlier in the day in Coos Bay. “They’re having trouble getting engines for the boats and I told him we’ll go back and see what we can do.”

The boat is designed to handle search and rescue missions and law enforcement activities. It can handle up to 30 feet of sea, 20 feet of surf and 50 knots of wind.

Troiola propelled the boat to its top speed of 28 knots (about 32 mph). “It was exhilarating,” said the Navy veteran. “You don’t realize how much technology there is. There is a small joystick. And with a little touch, the sensitivity of it can tip the whole ship around corners. The wind blowing in your face, like a kid in a convertible.

The Commander also toured the Yaquina Bay Coast Guard Station, commanded by Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade. She mentioned how important it was to discuss topics such as the Coast Guard Act and the Legion is the only one suicide prevention initiative.

“It’s special that the National Commander wants to come here to Yaquina Bay Station,” she said, noting that the local Legion is among the station’s supporters. “It’s great to be able to showcase not only our station here, but also our local community and support. During the government shutdown and at times when we were in need, our communities certainly rallied around us. We are not forgotten. »

Yaquina Bay is a premier lifesaving station, centrally located on the Oregon Coast in Newport. He specializes in search and rescue operations, regularly rescuing boats in difficult conditions that have run aground 50 nautical miles and sometimes further offshore.

“Having a visit like this with the national commander and being able to explain the struggles we have with the national commander, that he’s fighting for our crews and our veterans, really resonates,” Slade said. “I know he has a much better understanding of the difficulties our crews sometimes face. It’s a great opportunity to learn what he stands for, including veteran suicide prevention. I’m very passionate about it. We have a lot of teams here who are trained in suicide intervention. And knowing that we have great resources watching over us means a lot.

The commander’s visit was particularly meaningful for Oregon NEC member Kevin Owens.

“We wanted to showcase our coast, our state,” the retired Coast Guard veteran said. “Our goal was to introduce him to the Coast Guard. We wanted to give him the opportunity to see what young men and women do on a daily basis.

Young men and women are often in charge of small boats in dangerous waters with crews of four or five on critical missions, Owens said.

“I was proud to be with them, as a coastguard, and to see the pride of the national commander as he handed out awards,” he said. “To see the national commander embracing this is a big deal for the smaller service because we’re not part of the DoD.”

Owens sees the visit pay off when Troiola presents the Legion’s testimony to Congress the next year.

“The conclusion is that he will be more believable because it will come from his heart. It’s not a question of ‘I read’ or ‘I heard’ but ‘I saw’.

Troiola left impressed with what he saw and experienced during his visit.

“Not only are they professional, but they’re so proud of what they do,” he said. “They talk about it with pride. One of them said to me, ‘Whether we get paid or not, we’re still going to do our thing. People think we’re just going to stop, but that’s not going to happen. And it’s important to know that.


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