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cadet blogs

Dear Families of New Swabs

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link   All Posts
Opas Photo Dear Families of New Swabs,

 

Looking back at the singular year I’ve been in the Coast Guard, I realize how fulfilling it has been. But that sense of fulfillment did not come without an initiation period. As swabs, just like our enlisted and officer brethren in the fleet, we must break into Academy life. We must go through trials and tribulations alongside our classmates for these seven brief weeks so that we learn to take care of ourselves AND lean on each other during times of stress. To you, the summer without your swab may feel immeasurably long. To your swab, this summer will feel like an eternity. It will not be without tears, bruises, scrapes, or sacrifices; and certainly not without a profuse amount of sweating.

 

But know this. Your swab is in good hands. If not their more-than-capable company chiefs and officers, or their cadre, but their classmates. Your swabs are making some of the BEST friendships they have ever made, and will ever make in their lives. The men and women your swab stood shoulder to shoulder with on Washington Parade Field will be your sons and daughters’ family. They will buoy them up at 2 a.m. when they have to write a 1,000-word paper due the next day, they will run alongside them to make sure they pass the PFE every semester, and they will give your swab that integral piece of motivation when they hit the point in the summer where they feel they cannot take one step further.

 

I still remember running across Washington Parade Field in the last ten minutes I had to say goodbye to my family last summer. I recall the tears blurring my vision. But I also remember the pride I saw in my parents’ faces. The swabs may have already come to grips with the fact they won’t be home often anymore. If they haven’t, they will in time. Let them. It’s not that you’re losing a child, but rather that they’re becoming a part of something bigger than themselves. They’re ripping themselves from their comfort zones, devoting themselves to a higher calling, and doing some seriously amazing things in the process. You should be incredibly proud of them; they’re growing up a lot faster than their high school peers.

 

When you see your swab this summer, and believe me, you will, make sure to give him or her a hug‒ the cadre tend not to budget time in the swabbies’ schedules for them to bond and simply be human. Don’t pester your swab for stories, he or she will tell them in good time. Make sure to send swabbie snacks during the summer, and send letters‒even if it’s just to tell them what the weather’s like back home. Letters and packages make the roughest days just a bit better. But don’t necessarily expect a response immediately or frequently. It depends on the person, but with very little time to themselves, every swab budgets their time differently.

 

Take comfort in the knowledge that every swab is learning valuable life lessons. Be proud of them, be supportive of them, and be accepting of the new adults they’re becoming.

 

Cheers,
Former Swab Opas

 

More about Leah.