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cadet blogs

The Reward

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2017) Permanent link   All Posts
Cruz Photo Some days it all just clicks. In between the formations, mandatory open door study hour, and rigorous classes, you begin to wonder as a cadet, “Why am I even here?” A phrase noticeably just said out loud by every cadet at least once maybe twice a month. It is normally followed by a “I could totally be doing ______ at _______ right now.” The sentence is completed with words about something fun and someplace more hospitable. However, every time I hear this, I always think back to a video LCDR Millard showed during English Composition and Speech. It was of the commencement address of the USCGA Class of 2013, the new group of ensigns that my class has taken the place of. The speech itself was well prepared, with stories, anecdotes and life lessons all given from a Coastie on the edge of that thin line between Coast Guard cadet and commissioned officer. However, between all of the jokes and expressions of gratitude, one story stood out and hooked me.


During one of his leave periods, he went back to his high school to recruit and speak about the Coast Guard. It’s a typical thing for cadets to do. But during his presentation, one of the students asked the question, “So, the Academy’s free, but the catch is you have to join the Coast Guard afterwards, right?” The cadet had to pause for a second. “The Academy…is a wonderful and beautiful place, but it is not what I would call a reward.” The 1/c said to the crowd, “It’s not the Academy that would be the reward and the Coast Guard the obligation. It is the opposite.”


While many people carry the mindset of having college as the reward with the life afterward as payment, the four years we go through here serves as a down payment for the great things we’ll do in the future. Just think of all the men and women we’ll get to meet and the small chance to do our bit in changing the world. The Coast Guard is an amazing opportunity to make an impact on people’s lives, every day.


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