USCG Cutter Munro crew honored at the Coast Guard Foundation's 39th annual Salute to the United States Coast Guard, New York City, October 3, 2019.

USCG Cutter Munro crew honored at the Coast Guard Foundation's 39th annual Salute to the United States Coast Guard, New York City, October 3, 2019.  

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other local organizations found ways to help provide temporary financial support to members of the U.S. Coast Guard and their families when they were caught up in the last federal government shutdown.

Those efforts were reflected in numerous communities across the country and many people learned for the first time about the Coast Guard Foundation, a 501(c)(3) originally established in 1969 by Coast Guard veterans who served together during World War II. They expanded in 1986 to include greater services to families. “Our Mission: In times of triumph and through adversity, the Coast Guard Foundation: Focuses on the well-being, education, and morale of the men and women of the Coast Guard; Empowers and educates Coast Guard families; Provides critical support during times of injury and loss; and Serves to promote the missions of the Coast Guard”.

Susan Ludwig, president of the Coast Guard Foundation since 2017, recently made a fast trip through South Florida before heading to New Orleans for a major meeting and dinner. Among her tasks was further coordination for the 26th Tribute to the Seventh Coast Guard District planned in Fort Lauderdale. [As of this writing, that end of April event will be rescheduled to a later date.]

Despite the economic strain caused during government shutdowns, support from the Foundation was another opportunity for them to reach those who needed assistance. “The Coast Guard are among First Responders during a crisis and have intense daily missions such as port security. Knowing the Foundation is available to help with their families while they’re engaged in operations is important to them. We work closely with the station section leaders because there are different requirements by region,” Ludwig explained.

She has seen everything from major disasters to awarding scholarships to refurbishing playgrounds. “We set up in New Orleans to help after Hurricane Harvey hit.” That was close enough to Houston for the team to be able to assess where relief was needed and respond. “We raised over $1 million to help.” Hurricane Maria was a deadly storm that followed too soon after. “We were able to meet families airlifted to Florida to give them gift cards, get them into hotels, and make other arrangements for a ‘temporary stay’ that turned into six months.”

In accomplishing their missions, the Foundation’s programs fall into four general categories. Scholarships and Education looks to the entire family. Spouses and Coast Guard members are eligible as well as children headed to college.

Disaster relief such as following Hurricane Harvey comes under Family Resilience although sometimes measures are more preventative in nature. A Hurricane Readiness Seminar they developed is greatly in demand. Then there are both heartbreaking and heartwarming acts when a Coast Guard member dies.

At times, the family must travel to a given location and at other times, a service member is returned from the place of duty for the funeral. The Foundation will take care of transport and certain items for travel for family or crew members who might otherwise not be able to be present to pay their last respects.

Community Building

focuses on morale, wellness, and recreation support; areas that are often cut or significantly reduced when budgets are tight. According to the Foundation website, they have been able to fund 300 projects at 220 separate Coast Guard units across the country.

Employment Opportunities apply equally to members and their families. Spouses who are teachers for example may be required to be certified to teach in a different state when duty takes them to a new location. The Foundation can cover this cost for the spouse. Another highly successful initiative has enabled Coast Guard members to earn their Captain’s License or other technical credentials they can use when they transition back to civilian life.

“We have a strong network of retirees, veterans, business owners, and others we connect with,” Ludwig said. “We want people to know we are here and if there is a need, contact us and we may be able to help.”

For more information about the Coast Guard Foundation, go https://coastguardfoundation.org or email info@coastguardfoundation.org Telephone is (860) 535-0786 or write to 394 Taugwonk Road Stonington, CT 06378.

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