ISS3 2013

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Page 8 of 55

Deckplate Soundings Master Chief eric Johnson CG-821 o the men and women of the Coast Guard Reserve, thank you for dedicating your lives to the service of our Country and your fellow man. Many of you have made monumental sacrifices, missed important family events, forgone advances in your civilian careers, and even placed yourselves in harm's way as members of the Coast Guard Reserve -- your selfless contributions deserve recognition and you all have my sincere and unending appreciation. I've spent my entire adult life in the Coast Guard; I have seen both up and down budget cycles and I've seen our members give their very best during the most challenging of times. As a nation, we face challenges on many fronts. Our organization has always struggled with difficult decisions on how to make best use of its very limited pool of resources. The current budget climate will only get more challenging in the near future. Today, the Coast Guard must balance the need to address critical recapitalization priorities with its obligation to sustain front line operations. It's a balancing act similar to walking a tightrope…blindfolded. Assuredly the United States will rebound and our economic health will recover. But for the time being, we will remain in an environment of fiscal austerity. A question I field almost daily is, "How does Reserve funding look for fiscal year (FY) 2014?" At this point we know the appropriation, even with potential Congressional restorations, will be less than the FY13 funding level. How much less remains a moving target. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have moved to increase the President's request, but at this time we are waiting for exact levels. Even in a best case scenario, the reductions will be real, with impacts throughout the Reserve program. As members of the Coast Guard Reserve, we have some stark choices as to how we will respond to the changes produced by a sharply constrained fiscal climate. You can belong to the "ain't everything awful" crew and find reasons not to perform, placing blame for inaction on the lack of funding. Or, you can choose to do the right thing and embrace the "how can we make this happen" crew and work to find ways to exploit the possibilities, despite funding challenges. Either way, the choice is yours. But you must realize that your actions will be infectious -- you will either encourage others to excel or cause them to falter. The "right" path is also the "clear" path to success; even in the darkest of times many of us will adapt and overcome adversity. Perhaps hard times are what provide us with opportunities to shine. I can't say it loudly enough--continue to make yourself valuable and relevant. This holds true in both your military and civilian careers. Take this opportunity to increase your level of training and your qualifications; I've never heard anyone say "I wish I was less qualified" or "if only I knew less about my job." Even in these times of belt-tightening, the Coast Guard will spend approximately one quarter of a billion dollars to train its T members, both active and reserve. Opportunities will still exist; Coast Guard leadership understands the necessity of obtaining and improving competencies, and continues to invest heavily in training. They cannot value you any more than you value yourself. Take advantage of each and every opportunity to improve your knowledge and skills. Knowledge and skills are the best hedge against the adversity and ambiguity that inevitably accompany declining budgets. Here is a secret: set a goal, make a plan. People don't plan to fail, they just fail to plan. If you don't set a goal and make a plan, you will find that every hardship or distraction will knock you off course and cause you to stumble. Chasing rumors and viewing every organizational change as a personal attack on you or your situation is a recipe for disaster. Often there are changes that have varied levels of effect across our workforce. These changes are based on what is considered at the time to be the best path for our service to take. Your ability and willingness to depersonalize change and to see the opportunity that exists are the key to your continued success. Take a long look at the people around you and determine who you would desire to be most like when you are in their position some day. It's guaranteed you won't choose the Chief who sits around complaining how bad things are as your preferred role model, so don't be that individual. We succeed together or fail separately. Be the shipmate who looks for ways to do more and is genuinely happy when others around you succeed. That is truly taking care of each other and watching your shipmate's back. I would be remiss if I didn't take time to thank those positive role models and mentors, who influenced and continue to impact my career. Some of you have retired, and some are still serving in the world's best seagoing service; all of you are doing the right things right every day. Those of you I'm referring to know who you are; you are the special people of the Coast Guard who truly care about your service and the men and women who serve beside you. Our Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve are vital to our nation. We will, regardless of economic conditions, continue to provide critical security and safety for our fellow citizens. Please continue to give your best each and every time you suit up. We owe it to the nation and just as importantly, we owe in to each other. Thanks for taking the time to read my words, but as an important key to your future, please give some thought to heeding them; you will have no regrets. Semper Paratus! note: Master Chief Johnson is a member of the Coast Guard Reserve. He is currently serving on Extended Active Duty as a Program Reviewer for the Office of Budget and Programs (CG-82). Issue 3 • 2013 � RESERVIST 7

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