The men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard are the best of the best... true American heroes. But inside, they’re human and not immune to the tremendous stress that often comes with their military service. You may know that suicide is a serious problem in the U.S. Armed Forces. And the Coast Guard is not exempt. In fact, in 2022 Coast Guard members died from suicide at twice the rate of their peers in the other military services.
Coast Guard jobs can be intense and challenging. On any given day, members can experience the triumph of saving a life...and the tragedy of seeing lives lost. No matter how well they’ve performed, some may feel like their mission has been a failure.
Over time, the stress piles up. It can lead to depression, anxiety, strained relationships, issues with alcohol... and even thoughts of ending their lives. Many members simply don’t ask for help. Others feel they cannot admit they are struggling.
Research suggests that rates of traumatic stress among Coast Guard members serving at rescue stations are comparable to those of DOD members after a combat deployment. Other research has found that first responders suffer from depression and PTSD at a rate of up to five times higher than the general public.
To help Coast Guard members when they need rescuing, the Coast Guard Foundation is expanding its mental resiliency programs. We’ve kicked off a $500,000 campaign to SAVE LIVES by providing mental resiliency services to Coast Guard members nationwide. This sizable goal is supported by a matching gift challenge from donors Dick and Annette Symons and the PenFed Foundation. Gifts made during the campaign will be tripled — up to $150,000.
Funds raised during the campaign will support:
- The Coast Guard Chaplain Program, which delivers resiliency resources in addition to spiritual counsel.
- Shipmate Support Peer Training. Shipmate Support Peers receive training in ASIST, a suicide prevention and intervention training system.
- Resiliency Workshops that build emotional, mental and physical resilience to help members face the unique challenges that come with their service.
- Couples Retreats that allow Coast Guard members and spouses to build stronger relationships.
- Morale and Wellness Initiatives to keep members ready for their assignments and maintain their physical and mental well-being while at sea or stationed in remote areas.
Title Image: A boat crew member from Coast Guard Station New Orleans prepares to conduct search and rescue hoist training with a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans helicopter (U.S. Coast Guard photo)