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Lifestyle and Family

The Coast Guard lifestyle can be wonderful, filled with new experiences and exciting opportunities. And, as with any military commitment, balancing one’s career and personal life comes with its own challenges as well.

U.S. Based

Nearly all active duty officers are stationed in the United States. Although service members are subject to worldwide deployment, our day to day role is to protect American shores.

Community Centered

The Coast Guard life is not a typical military lifestyle. Unlike other military services, which operate large government housing tracts on military bases, most Coast Guard officers live in the local community. Social circles for officers usually include classmates, co-workers and their families, and friends from the community. Participation in local schools, churches, community activities and volunteer organizations are commonplace.

A Mobile Lifestyle

Officers are re-assigned every two to four years to a position of more responsibility. You’ll normally move when reassigned, and moving is stressful and can disrupt family routine. Moving is also an opportunity to experience a new places, people, history and culture, greatly enriching your family’s life.

Time Away

Separation is part of a mobile lifestyle and may involve absences from home of varying durations:

  • Sea duty: The larger the ship, the longer the patrols. Coast Guard patrols range from one week to three months.
  • Temporary duty: A trip out of town for work of varying lengths.
  • Deployments: Strike teams, deployable assets, and some pilots deploy in times of emergency, or as part of scheduled operations.
  • Duty: Junior officers usually stand some type of overnight duty rotation at their units. Duty lasts for about 24 hours.

Support for Family Moves

To make your transition as seamless and stress-free as possible, the Coast Guard offers a lot of support during family moves. Here are a few examples:

  • Sponsor Program: A fellow officer from your new unit is assigned by the Commanding Officer to help you and your family transition to area.
  • House-hunting leave: An extra week of leave once you have “orders” to a new assignment, in order to locate housing and check out your new area.
  • Relocation Services: Specialized staff coordinate transportation of your household goods, and provide guidance on housing, health care, child care and other areas of importance when moving.
  • Special Needs Program: Officers with identified special-need dependents are assigned to locations with needed services.

The Coast Guard and Family Life

Starting and raising a family is compatible with service in the Coast Guard. The experience is similar to that of most high-functioning dual career couples in the civilian workforce. Good problem solving, open communication and teamwork are important skills for adults balancing the normal commitments of job and family, as well as the unique challenges of military life. Tradeoffs should be expected along the way.

Together you’ll address questions like:

  • When to start a family?
  • Which assignments to take?
  • What are our top priorities as a family?
  • How to manage family roles and set schedules

The Coast Guard recognizes that service readiness depends on family readiness. Therefore, the Coast Guard offers an exceptional range of programs, initiatives and services to support and strengthen families.

To learn more, check out the Coast Guard’s family guide, Sea Legs.

Sponsor Family Application

Thank you for submitting your application to be part of the Sponsor Family Program. Your application will be processed in the upcoming week. Coast Guard Academy’s policy on background screening now requires all adults (everyone 18 and older living in the home) who volunteer to mentor, teach, coach or sponsor cadets, whether on or off Coast Guard Academy grounds, to be screened every 5 years. They are required to provide personal information (name, birth date and social security number) for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check.

The Security Officer at the Coast Guard Academy, CWO2 Gina Polkowski, is overseeing this process. Her email is:

Sponsor Family designations fall into several different categories. Below are the guidelines to help you determine how best to meet the background screening requirement:

  1. If you are Coast Guard active duty you do not need to apply for an additional Background Check. You will be vetted through the Coast Guard system by CWO2 Polkowski.
  2. If you are a Civilian working for the Coast Guard you do not need to apply for an additional Background Check. You will be vetted through the Coast Guard system by CWO2 Polkowski.
  3. If you are non-Coast Guard Active Duty, you are required to provide proof of your current security clearance or National Agency Check that is to be emailed by your Command Security Officer (CSO)/ Security Office to CWO2 Polkowski at
  4. If you are non-Coast Guard civilian who has a current security clearance or National Agency check, you are required to provide proof of your current security clearance or National Agency Check that is to be emailed by your Command Security Officer (CSO)/ Security Office to CWO2 Polkowski at
  5. All civilians in the families who are 18 years or older and do not have a security clearance or a National Agency Check are required to be vetted through Mind Your Business, the third party vendor hired by the Coast Guard Academy for the vetting process.

After you complete your application, please e-mail the Sponsor Family Program Coordinator at In your e-mail, you must include the e-mail address and phone number of every adult living in the home. The Sponsor Family Coordinator will then initiate the background check process and you will receive an email with further instructions.

Important things to note:

There is a Sponsor Family Training that is a one-hour training which we ask sponsors to attend once every four years. This training is designed to give you an overview of the program, what is expected of you as a sponsor, and what you can expect from your cadets. This training will also help familiarize you with the cadet regulations onboard CGA. You will be notified via e-mail once the training is scheduled.

The matching process of swabs to families will occur during July and August. Please bear with us and remain flexible through this process. There will be a meet and greet scheduled on Campus, typically in late August. This will give families an opportunity to formally meet their cadet if they have not already done so. Details on this will also be via email.

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