Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the eighth post of a month-long question and answer series, introducing members of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Northwest Reserve Force and recognizing their contributions to our country and community.

Yeoman, Third Class Vu Tu
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
District 13 Personnel/Administration Branch (Seattle)

Photo Release: Pacific Northwest Coast Guardsmen participate in 66th Annual Torchlight Parade

Q. Where is your hometown?
A. I was born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam. I went to college and worked for four years there before I immigrated to Seattle, Washington in September 2007.

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?
A. I was lucky enough to be accepted to the reserve program in 2010. I went to Cape May, New Jersey for Basic Training and graduated from the Direct Entry Petty Officer Program in October 2010.

Q. What made you want to join the Coast Guard?
A. My dream was to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. I did a lot of research about the Coast Guard’s duties and joint missions and was also convinced by my mentor, ITC Brandon James, who was stationed at Base Seattle. I realized the Coast Guard was the best fit for me because of its unique missions (e.g., we are trained to save lives). In addition, I dreamed to be one of those people who unconditionally risk their lives to protect our country and save as many lives as possible.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while drilling?
A. My main duties are to approve our members’ drills, prepare military travel orders and transportation. I also assist my colleagues in helping to advance their careers and understand their pay.

Q. What does a typical drill day look like?
A. I am usually scheduled to come into our office usually every other Monday. I report in at 7:30 a.m. and, typically, the very first things I do are check my email and look for tasking from my supervisor. In our office, each Yeoman is in charge of taking care of certain servicemembers. I am the only reservist in our office who is assigned to take care of all the reservists in District 13. I make sure our members’ pay and entitlements look right and their drills get approved.

Q. What’s your most memorable experience joining in the Coast Guard?
A. An unforgettable memory was my time at basic training in Cape May. Coast Guard Basic Training includes physically-draining, mentally-challenging and emotionally-intense activities. There are a series of strategically-designed events that purposely challenge you. However, everything that is done at boot camp has a reason behind it and, today, I am lucky enough to adopt these practices in my civilian life.

VU at workQ. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard?
A. I am a medical laboratory scientist at the Core Lab – Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Q. What challenges do you face in balancing Coast Guard and civilian life?
A. The most challenging part involves conflicting schedules. I have a hard time adjusting my sleep schedule because I work the evening shift at the hospital. Since I get off work at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, it can be rough for me to get up early on Monday morning to come into the office. However, Seattle Children’s Hospital is such a military friendly and supportive organization that they really work around military members’ schedules; they make sure we have time to serve our nation.

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian job and vice versa?
A. There are several skills that I have learned and adopted from the Coast Guard, such as paying close attention to details and being well organized. One of the unique and distinct qualities that all veterans have is to be well disciplined. Those vital skills are helpful and important, not only in military life, but also in our civilian careers.

Q. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?
A. Although reservists don’t spend as much time doing things like active duty members, we still come into to drill and learn something new. That is the main reason we have reservists who are constantly training to be ready for mobilization, as needed. Besides the military skills we acquire, each individual reservist brings other skills into the organization, which might be useful for the Coast Guard.


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