Coast Guard BEGS For Recruits – And They’re Paying a PRETTY Penny

Coast Guard Offers $50k Sign On Bonus to Recruits

Coast Guard Offers $50k Sign-On Bonus to Recruits

( – Every branch of the US military has seen greater than normal attrition over the past year due, at least in part, to COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Traditionally, the US Coast Guard (USCG) has maintained the lowest attrition rates, but even this branch is now taking extraordinary measures to retain and recruit team members. The USCG recently announced sign-on bonuses of up to $50,000 to recruits to combat the number of open billets.

Shortages Impact Readiness and Response

Like the rest of the American labor market, the military has more job openings, or billets, than people to fill them. Yet, in the military, the problem impacts readiness and unit competency, which, in turn, impacts response times and imposes an additional strain on existing personnel, making retention that much more difficult.

Like other military branches, the Coast Guard experienced accelerated attrition when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. An internal USCG Retention & Recruiting Study from September revealed “critical shortages have been exacerbated since the mandate of COVID vaccines,” according to Fox News. Coast Guard Lt. Chad Coppin told the news outlet how the Guard is short by more than 2,700 service members.

According to FOX News, many active service members sought religious accommodations to exempt them from the vaccines, but the USCG denied their requests. In September, the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than 1,200 Coast Guard members facing involuntary separation.

Negotiation based on the suit has resulted in a stay of those separations. Still, according to reports, some members claim their accommodation request has stifled their ability to increase in rank. The Coast Guard maintains it has not penalized service members for “seeking religious accommodations from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.”

Loss of trained and seasoned personnel impacts readiness. The Coast Guard is the only service branch involved in assisting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), executing maritime rescues and border enforcement. But, the USCG is also integral to the defense against terrorism. In recognition of the Coast Guard’s contributions, Congress authorized the expansion of its forces in The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022 to 74,000 service members.

Competing for Limited Resources

Still, the USCG is competing with every other military branch and civilian companies to attract and retain talent. Taking a chapter from the private business sector, military branches, including the USCG, are offering signing bonuses. The Army and Navy began offering recruitment bonuses of up to $50,000 in January.

As late as July, Admiral Linda Fagan said the USCG wasn’t considering signing bonuses because the branch considered them only a “stopgap.” Fagan told Congress, “You may draw them in with money, but you won’t be able to keep them.” Still, Fagan acknowledged the need to compete. She also told Congress, “Our service is now competing for talent in a post-pandemic job market with historically low unemployment rates, where even entry-level jobs offer benefits similar to the military.”

Instead, the branch has focused on improving quality-of-life issues such as offering affordable housing options in port cities, where it’s often unattainable, providing childcare and expanded healthcare benefits, and allowing for more personal freedom of expression, including tattoos and piercings.

So while the Coast Guard is strategically addressing critical personnel shortages by offering signing bonuses, they’re also building infrastructure to address retention.

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