Coast Guard Auxiliary seeks active volunteers
by Staff Writer
If so, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is looking for you.
And, with three flotillas in the Lake Norman area, the opportunities begin at the local level.
The auxiliary, called “America’s Volunteer Lifesavers,” is the uniformed component of the U.S. Coast Guard and is actively seeking members to serve their communities and their country.
Local units are 26-01 – Lake Norman, 26-03 – Davidson, and 26-04 – Lake Norman West. Specific information is available by visiting the Coast Guard Auxiliary website.
Like much of the military, the auxiliary conducts missions on the water, in the air and on land. They include safety patrols and search-and-rescue missions on the nation’s waterways, assisting the Coast Guard with homeland security, teaching boating safety and conducting free boating safety checks.
Brad Simpson, a Coast Guard Auxiliary division spokesman for North Carolina, concurs, especially for ensuring boating and maritime safety, the auxiliary’s primary mission.
“There are three core messages from the auxiliary to the public. One, life vests save lives. Everyone should wear a life jacket. Two, an educated boater is a safe boater. Everyone should take a safe-boating course regardless of how long you have been boating. Third, a properly equipped boat is a safe boat. Everyone should get a free vessel exam,” he said. “If the public will follow these three core messages, we can reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on the water.”
According to Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, the auxiliary is a “force multiplier” for the Coast Guard. They are an integral part of Team Coast Guard, Allen said, and participate in all Coast Guard missions authorized by Congress, with the exception of direct law enforcement and military action.
The auxiliary has more than 32,000 active volunteers and operates in all 50 states and U.S. terroritories.
Division Commander Sandra Stewart oversees 176 members in the Western North Carolina region. The division, headquartered in Denver, serves Lake Norman, Lake Hickory, Lake Wylie and Badin Lake.
“I joined the auxiliary in July 2004 because my husband needed a hobby. Little did I know at that time, I would find this to be fun, exciting and rewarding,” she said.
After working in her local flotilla and taking on several staff positions, she became radio qualified and joined the boat crew program.
After being elected flotilla vice commander, she was elected flotilla commander, then vice division commander and now division commander for North Carolina. She is also involved in the AuxChef program, which provides food services to active duty Coast Guard members.
Stewart welcomes inquiries about the auxiliary from potential volunteers.
Volunteer opportunities include Web design, information technology, public affairs and other administrative roles. Available training opportunities (mostly free) include public affairs, boat crew and coxswain (small boat operator), vessel examiner and boating safety class instructor.