Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) was presented with the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award in recognition of the organization’s extraordinary response during the 35-day partial government shutdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating steadfast support of the entire Coast Guard Community.
“During times of uncertainty throughout America’s history, our Coast Guard continues to perform critical missions that protect our national interests, promote economic prosperity, and ensure public safety; Mutual Assistance has stood by us throughout all these challenging endeavors,” said Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard when presenting the award. “Thank you, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, for your unwavering support of our entire Coast Guard Community.”
During the unprecedented fiscal year 2019 Department of Homeland Security lapse in appropriations, CGMA provided $8.4 million in financial assistance to over 6,200 Coast Guard members and families in just 35 days–breaking all previous records of support. Active Duty spouse Kara Cawley Riemer reflecting on the impact of the support for her family, said, “You brought peace of mind to Coast Guard members during a very dark time.”
Throughout 2020, as Coast Guard men and women deftly adjusted to continue to perform critical missions during the global pandemic, CGMA was working to protect them. In response to the resulting economic pressures, Mutual Assistance introduced eight temporary assistance programs designed to widen the financial safety net for the Coast Guard community, providing $4.4 million in COVID-19 related assistance to 6,188 Coast Guard families. Topping 80%, an astonishing $3.5 million, of that support was given in the form of grants.
“Thank you for your invaluable support during these unprecedented times. CGMA has been incredibly responsive to the needs of our Coasties especially under the pressures induced by COVID-19, including ferry scheduling issues, childcare needs, and school opening uncertainties,” said Rear Admiral M. T. Bell, Commander, 17th Coast Guard District. “The services that you have provided to our Coast Guard men and women and their families support the philosophy that ‘people are our most valued asset.’ Your contributions ensure that our service is postured to be Ready, Relevant, and Responsive, even during a national pandemic.”
CGMA CEO, Rear Admiral Cari Thomas, USCG retired shares, “We are pleased to serve all members of the Coast Guard community whenever there is a need and are truly honored to receive the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award. For nearly a hundred years, our mission has remained unchanged…that is to help Coast Guardsmen and their families in need. CGMA truly embodies its motto, ‘Helping Our Own’ by addressing the needs of the most vulnerable during national crises and disasters, in addition to lending a helping hand year-round, through programs such as education support, first and last month’s rent, car repair, and special needs grants.”
Aside from the Gold and Silver Life-Saving Medals, the Distinguished Public Service Award is the highest public recognition that the Commandant of the Coast Guard may give. It is given to recognize extraordinary heroism in advancing the Coast Guard’s mission, exceptional coordination and/or cooperation in matters pertaining to the Coast Guard’s responsibilities, or personal and direct contribution that has a direct bearing on the accomplishment of the Coast Guard’s responsibilities to the public
Since its inception in 1924, CGMA has provided over $214 million in direct assistance to the Coast Guard community. Its work is performed by collateral duty Coast Guardsmen at 168 local Coast Guard units. Coast Guard Mutual Assistance is one of four Congressionally-sanctioned Military Aid Societies that collectively help 2.5 million service members and their families. The other societies include the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, and Army Emergency Relief. CGMA provides financial assistance through grants and zero-interest loans for needs such as disaster relief, education, and family support. CGMA has been named a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator and awarded the Platinum Seal of Transparency by GuideStar, the highest ratings bestowed by both independent evaluators. For more information: visit www.cgmahq.org.