The U.S. Coast Guard recently has taken a number of actions in response to the findings of the RAND study on improving diversity in the service.1 These steps should provide more options for women in the Coast Guard and lead to improved retention; however, more must be done to maintain the momentum. The service must go beyond the servicemember and focus on the military spouse.
The RAND study notes that “[f]requent transfers and remote locations can limit a civilian spouse’s career.” A Coast Guard family experiences a move an average of every two to four years. While personnel transfers provide useful benefits to the service—allowing it to adjust force structures, promote the acquisition of new skills, and standardize processes across the nation—it wreaks havoc on spouses by disrupting support networks, college studies, and careers.
1. Kimberly Curry Hall, Kirsten M. Keller, David Schulker, Sarah Weilant, Katherine L. Kidder, Nelson Lim, Improving Gender Diversity in the U.S. Coast Guard - Identifying Barriers to Female Retention (RAND Corporation, 2009).
2. Julie Bogan, “The Dismal Career Opportunities for Military Spouses,” The Atlantic, 28 March 2019.
3. Blue Star Families, 2017 Military Lifestyle Survey Comprehensive Report (2017).