Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Guardian Spouse Jill Simcox

Jill Simcox poses for a photo prior to her meeting with the spouses and soon-to-be spouses of recruits graduating from U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Feb. 27, 2015. Simcox is the Lead Guardian Spouse, where she provides information about military life in a positive and informative way every graduation day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards.

Jill Simcox poses for a photo prior to her meeting with the spouses and soon-to-be spouses of recruits graduating from U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Feb. 27, 2015. Simcox is the Lead Guardian Spouse, where she provides information about military life in a positive and informative way every graduation day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards.

 

Written by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards

Imagine yourself blindfolded and inching forward into a great unknown. Your mind is racing as you take each unsure step. You may feel disoriented, apprehensive, maybe even little scared? Your mind begins to weigh the risk vs reward of this journey, and you have only just begun. The only thing you know for sure is that the further in you go, the further away you become from everything and everyone that provided you a sense of security, safety and comfort.

Absolutely terrifying, right?

This is what it must feel like to be a civilian spouse whose husband or wife has just joined the military and is about to embark on their first Permanent Change of Station or PCS to a new unit somewhere, most likely, far away from home. A mixed bag of emotions that range from over the moon excited at the prospect of a new life to all the “what ifs” that creep in like thieves in the night to shake the foundations of your happy thoughts.

Luckily, for the spouses, or those soon-to-be spouses, whose loved ones graduate from the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, New Jersey, there is a program that helps make that transition a little smoother and a dedicated group of volunteers who provide sage advice for those about to begin their lives in the military.

 

Members of the Guardian Spouses speak with the spouses, or soon-to-be spouses, of graduating recruits from U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Feb. 27, 2015. The Guardian Spouses provide information about military life in a positive and informative way every graduation day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards.

Members of the Guardian Spouses speak with the spouses, or soon-to-be spouses, of graduating recruits from U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Feb. 27, 2015. The Guardian Spouses provide information about military life in a positive and informative way every graduation day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards.

 

The name of the program is “Guardian Spouses” and the lead Guardian Spouse is Jill Simcox. Under Jill’s lead, these spouses are a diverse group of Coast Guard dependents whose active-duty members are stationed at either the Training Center or at one of the tenant commands aboard the unit. These volunteers must possess qualities such as having a positive outlook and a high level of motivation in order to be a part of the Guardian Spouses. The program is designed to help indoctrinate those who are taking those first unsure steps into military life, and it is crucial that these volunteers present information in an informative and positive way. Each volunteer must be interviewed by the Commanding Officer, Capt. Todd Prestidge, before being able to join the group.

“I see this as an extension of our command philosophy,” said Prestidge. “As part of our caretaking program to ensure that each recruit’s first steps in the Coast Guard are the right steps. It only makes sense that we would have qualified people helping the recruit’s significant other to be adequately and equally prepared for life in the military as well.”

Jill has the responsibility of overseeing the efforts of the volunteer group and devotes a lot of time and energy into making it one of the training center’s most successful programs.

“The Guardian Spouses program is an amazing program that I feel quite passionate about,” said Simcox. “I volunteer my time because I think it is important for our newest members of the Coast Guard to know how important family is to the Coast Guard. We are a tight-knit community and there are so many wonderful resources available for dependents. We just need to spread the word!”

Jill has been with the Guardian Spouse program for three years and has been the lead Guardian Spouse for the last year. She and other volunteers meet nearly every Friday of the year with dependents prior to the start of the recruit commencement ceremony.

 

Jill Simcox hands out information during a meeting with the spouses and soon-to-be spouses of recruits graduating from U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Feb. 27, 2015. Simcox is the Lead Guardian Spouse, where she provides information about military life in a positive and informative way every graduation day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards.

Jill Simcox hands out information during a meeting with the spouses and soon-to-be spouses of recruits graduating from U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., Feb. 27, 2015. Simcox is the Lead Guardian Spouse, where she provides information about military life in a positive and informative way every graduation day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer John Edwards.

 

While meeting every week may become routine for some people, Jill looks at every week as an opportunity and appreciates her ability to be able to positively impact the lives of the people who attend their gatherings.

“I would have to say that every graduation Friday brings a new memorable moment. I know that sounds cheesy, but the fact that I can welcome one, just one, spouse into the Coast Guard with a smile and some helpful information makes it memorable to me,” said Simcox.

Jill, a Los Alamos, New Mexico, native, has been at the Training Center with her husband, Chief Petty Officer Robert Simcox, a company commander in charge of training recruit companies, for the last 3 years. When she is not helping the dependents as a Guardian Spouse, she volunteers in the community as a member of the Cape May City Elementary School Board, and at the Our Lady Star of the Sea Church as a Sunday school teacher. Additionally, she is also involved with other on-base organizations such as the Jersey Cape May Military Spouses Club where she is the Head of the Membership Committee, the Recruit Stocking Committee that provides Christmas stockings to recruits who are in training over the Christmas holiday and as a member of the Educational Award Committee. On top of all of her volunteer work, she is also the mother of three children.

For all of her hard work, she was recently awarded Coast Guard District 5’s Military Spouse of the Year and is currently a nominee for the national title of the same name.

So, for all the soon-to-be dependents of Coast Guard Training Center Cape May graduates, those first, tentative steps into the unknown may be scary, but thanks to people like Jill Simcox and the volunteers of the Guardian Spouses program, you have a light to guide your way and a support system that ensures a successful start to a career dedicated to Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

 

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