Career Spotlight: The United States Coast Guard


A U.S. Coast Guard boat sits at port.

Why should today’s students consider the United States Coast Guard?

According to Commander Meridena Kauffman, the Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces where young men and women can pursue their own interests and passions, while also finding opportunities to achieve success in a long-term career path. The Coast Guard is one of America’s seven uniformed services. A multi-mission organization, its duties range from maritime law enforcement, to homeland security, to natural disaster response, to environmental protection.


Meridena Kauffman, Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Click a button to watch an interview with CDR Meridena Kauffman:




CDR Kauffman grew up with a passion for the environment. Today, thanks to the support she’s received from the Coast Guard as well as her own determination, she’s not only a high-ranking commander, she’s also working on missions that she says relate to her personal, lifelong passion.

CDR Kauffman is assigned to the Coast Guard’s marine safety mission. How does this relate to environmental protection? One of the Coast Guard’s missions is to protect U.S. waterways and the people who use them. Part of this mission involves preventing and responding to waterway incidents that endanger human life. In the process, this mission also serves to protect the marine habitat. For example, by inspecting ships that are carrying hazardous materials, accidents that might harm the aquatic ecosystem can be prevented.

CDR Kauffman also oversees the Coast Guard’s ballast water program. Ballast, she explained to Fast Forward, is water that a ship takes into its tanks for extra weight. This extra weight provides additional stability as the ship moves through the water. Upon reaching coastal ports, the ship often needs to discharge this extra water, but it can contain organisms like plants, aquatic life, and microscopic bacteria that might disrupt the surrounding local ecosystem. CDR Kauffman is in charge of efforts to prevent this disruption. She also travels the country to share what she’s learned with other transportation professionals who have similar interests.

CDR Kauffman explained that this opportunity to pursue her interest in the environment was one of the things that led her to choose the Coast Guard. The other things that appealed to her included the training, leadership opportunities, and possibilities for long-term advancement that the Coast Guard offered. Like CDR Kauffman, today’s students are sure to find something appealing in this organization.

“I love the Coast Guard because I love being around other people who love their jobs, support each other, and want to make the world a better place,” CDR Kauffman said. “I look forward to going to work every day when I’m in an environment where people are supporting each other, are excited about what they’re doing, and are excited to make a difference.”

You can learn more about the Coast Guard by visiting its Web site or from this informative Wikipedia page. Imagine leading a search-and-rescue operation or delivering supplies in the wake of a major hurricane. How about responding to a major oil spill or escorting a cargo ship to safe waters? These are just a few of the countless ways you could make a difference in the Coast Guard.

Watch CDR Kauffman’s video to hear more about her exciting career in the Coast Guard. And continue following Fast Forward for more stories about careers in the maritime transportation industry.



Aaron Mack
Fast Forward: Volume 3 Issue 6 – Maritime & Rail