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Coast Guard Q&A: How Many Coast Guard Members Reenlist?

Alameda is one of more than a dozen designated "Coast Guard Cities" — communities that are closely intertwined with a local Coast Guard base. Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read answers questions from Alameda Patch readers.

What percentage of Coast Guard members stay in longer than their original enlistment?

The Coast Guard currently has a 97 percent retention rate, which is higher than it has ever been.

This is due in part to the poor economy, but the quality of life within the Coast Guard is the major factor for a large retention rate. Service in the U.S. Coast Guard provides outstanding health care benefits, educational opportunities, job security and ample opportunities for advancement. In addition, many of our service members are very dedicated and believe in the Coast Guard's 11 missions.

The current average age of enlistees is 24 to 25 years of age, up from the previous 17 to 18-year-old range. The Coast Guard has become more of a career option instead of a four-year stopgap. Because of the older average age of enlistees the Coast Guard has seen more and more people coming in with college degrees, which the Coast Guard is able to use within its framework.

Since a Coast Guardsman can retire after serving for 20 years, many enlistees see the opportunity of retiring in their 40s as enticing and providing an opportunity for a second career.

Active-duty enlistees have a choice of signing up for four or six years, but reservists must sign up for six years.

There is a big push currently to sign up reservists. Reserve spots are hard to fill because they are basically part-time jobs and that is not what is in demand. Metropolitan areas like the San Francisco Bay Area have the most reserve openings.

There is no waiting list to join the Coast Guard, but the process of enlisting can take time. Applicants must be screened for health and aptitude, and once accepted to active duty service, they must then wait until there is space available to them at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, NJ, or Officer Candidate School at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.

There is currently more space available for women. If an enlistee signed up today, a woman could be in boot camp as early as December 2011, while a man wouldn’t get to boot camp until March 2012.

Those interested in more information about the Coast Guard can go to www.gocoastguard.com or contact the local Alameda recruiting office at 510-769-8187, Chief Petty Officer Amerita Iyoki at 510-437-3941 or Petty Officer 1st Class Warren Weatherford at 510-909-9132.

Luther Abel October 11, 2011 at 03:04 PM
I must wonder if the writer mis-stated things, that the Coast Guard saw 97% of hoped-for reenlistments occur rather than 97% of all CG personnel reenlisting. Even if everyone who enlists were to stay for 20 years, that would still mean that one twentieth (5%) of CG personnel would retire every year, or only 95% of them would reenlist. If one Googles "military reenlistment rates" one sees that all branches of the military state reenlistment rates as a percentage of their "goal" -- but the services are much more close-mouthed about the actual number of people that comprise their goal.
Petty Officer 2nd Levi Read October 11, 2011 at 06:27 PM
I double checked our statistics and according to the Coast Guard Recruiting Command in Washington, D.C., the statistics given in this article are correct. The Coast Guard has a very high rate of retention that not only meets our goals but surpasses them.

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