Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the first post of a month-long question and answer series intended to introduce members of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Northwest Reserve Force and recognize their contributions to our country and community. We’re kicking off this series with our Reserve Chief of Staff, Captain Matthew B. Stuck. Semper Paratus!

Captain Matthew B. Stuck, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
Coast Guard 13th District, Reserve Chief of Staff

Captain Matthew B. Stuck, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Coast Guard District 13, Reserve Chief of Staff
Q. Where is your hometown?
A. I was born in New England and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After traveling in the Coast Guard on Active Duty through 2000, I resettled on Cape Cod in Bourne, Massachusetts.

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard? Did you serve on active duty in your career?
A. I am completing my 24th year since having graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1992. I was on active duty for nine years, and have been mobilized three times since 2001 as a reserve member.

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard? Why do you stay/what keeps you motivated?
A. Not having been raised in a Coast Guard or military-affiliated family, I learned about the Coast Guard through my high school football coach when he insisted that I visit the Academy as a good opportunity to play in college. It was clear from the moment I took the oath in 1988 that the Coast Guard was an organization of people who were team-focused, cared deeply about helping others, were pragmatic and action-oriented. Every experience I’ve had, both in and out of the service, has reinforced that first impression. We have good missions, but draw terrific people. Reserve members know this more than some of our active duty counterparts, as most reservists have extensive experience in the civilian work world and can easily recognize the caliber of people drawn to the Coast Guard.

Q. Have you been deployed since joining the reserves? If so, where and when?
A. I have been mobilized three times as a reservist: following 9/11 to support Military Outload operations in advance of Operation Iraqi Freedom, serving as a Parish President Liaison Officer in Louisiana during the Deepwater Horizon Spill response operations and planning/supporting joint agency safety and security operations for the War of 1812 Bicentennial in the Port of Boston.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while on duty?
A. As a District Senior Reserve Officer, my role is to help ensure that senior active duty leaders understand the necessity, requirements and advantages of a properly supported, trained and accountable reserve force, and to support senior reserve leaders in the field to advance their teams. Doing everything I can to learn the challenges, best practices and day-to-day experiences of reserve members is how I can inform and support improvements to the Coast Guard’s long-term strategy to maximize our reserve force capability and workforce quality.

Q. What’s your most memorable experience since joining the Coast Guard?
A. Serving at sea on buoy tenders (particularly during some very nasty Nor’easters along the Atlantic Coast), working to facilitate good communications, public relations and collaborative solutions during some tense Deepwater Horizon Response operations and supporting reserve members as a Senior Reserve Officer are definitely top the list. Working for and earning qualifications and helping other team members do the same is a close second.

Q. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard? Where?
A. After I left active duty, I was a high school math teacher and coach for approximately nine years in Bourne, Massachusetts, working with students in grades 10-12. Currently, I serve as the Chief of the First Coast Guard District’s Waterways Management Branch (Northeastern United States) where our team supports aids to navigation operations, domestic icebreaking, maritime regulation development and marine spatial planning work.

Q. How do you balance Coast Guard and civilian life? Any challenges?
A. I’ve told many reservists: a Coast Guard Reserve career is a full-time commitment compressed into part-time hours and both the Coast Guard and American public benefit from our collective dedication. The challenges of finding time to give all the necessary time and focus to a family, a full-time civilian career and a reserve career are non-stop and become more complex as a reserve member’s seniority increases. But it’s worth the commitment, as I get to work regularly with the highest quality people I have ever met.

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian career and vice versa?
A. Being an effective manager, an active listener, speaking well and leading large and small groups, and learning to prioritize and multi-task are among the most critical skills everyone needs to be successful in any profession. The Coast Guard provides multiple opportunities to get better at each of the aforementioned skills during every tour and throughout a career. As a civilian, and particularly as a teacher, learning strong empathy skills to understand people’s diverse perspectives has been an important journey, helping me be a better member of the Coast Guard.

Q. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?
A. As one of my former active duty commanding officers was fond of saying, “The reserve is like having a hundred dollar bill in your wallet – it’s there when you need it and can pay for almost anything.” Our reservists are committed, eager to step up and support mobilizations or weekend augmentation, possess a wide range of skills in healthcare, law, small business, skilled trades and a host of other fields. Additionally, many reservists know ‘the lay of the land’ in local communities into which our active duty counterparts rotate every three years. The Coast Guard Reserve is a valuable and flexible workforce that serves as the service’s quick multiplier effect.

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