The force behind the force: Lifelines

Posted by Cmdr. Glynn Smith on behalf of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.

Coast Guard Foundation Port Angeles playground

The Coast Guard Foundation uses its Shipmate Fund to support the service through projects that bring families together, like this playground built for personnel and their families stationed in Port Angeles, Wa. Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Foundation.

This post is part of an ongoing series from Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp to provide more insight into his Year of the Coast Guard Family initiative that was highlighted in his State of the Coast Guard address. This post focuses specifically on the Coast Guard Foundation.

Last night, I had the great pleasure of closing the Coast Guard Foundation’s annual dinner in our nation’s capital. It was fitting that I was joined by former Coast Guard commandants Adm. James Gracey, Adm. James Loy, and Adm. Thad Allen, all of whom have seen the Coast Guard Foundation expand its support for our service as our missions have expanded in the decade since the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

Admiral Papp and Coast Guard Foundation president Brengle

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp with Coast Guard Foundation president Anne Brengle. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelly Parker.

As a ship captain, you quickly learn when the sky darkens and the seas get rough to have extra life lines rigged fore and aft for crew members that may need to venture out on the weather decks during the storm. If they fall, they will land between the life lines – not overboard. For more than forty years, the Coast Guard Foundation has been the life line for Coast Guard men, women and their families.

Sometimes it’s simple things, like playgrounds and pavilions where families can gather together and around which communities are built. Other times, it’s initiatives that are truly life-changing like scholarship funds that provide the means to obtain an education and open the doors to new opportunity. And then, in our toughest times and in our times of greatest need, the Coast Guard Foundation Family Disaster Fund aids the families of the fallen, helping shoulder the financial burden as our families attempt to shoulder the incomprehensible burden of loss.

When President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Strengthening Our Military Families initiative, the President reminded us “the remarkable families are the force behind the force. They are the reason we have the finest military in the world.” So too is the Coast Guard Foundation the force behind our force. But, unlike military members and their families, nobody asked them for their support. Instead, they stepped forward and selflessly did it on their own out of the truest sense of kindness, honor and citizenship.

It’s for these reasons and so many more ways they support Coast Guard families that I am proud to call the members of the Coast Guard Foundation my Shipmates.

Semper Paratus,

Adm. Bob Papp

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