Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the fourteenth 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, Second Class Julia Skrabacz
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
Port Security Unit 313 (Everett, WA)

YN2 Skrabacz and husband

Q. Where is your hometown?
A. I was born and raised in the Lone Star State. Houston, Texas is my hometown.

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?
A. I have been in the Coast Guard for six years and nine months, six years of which were on active duty. I served aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, at Sector Upper Mississippi River and at Base Detachment St. Louis on active duty. I’m currently serving at Port Security Unit 313 as a reservist.

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard? Why do you stay/what keeps you motivated?
A. I joined the Coast Guard to experience adventure and be part of a greater and bigger organization. While many may question why the Coast Guard often participates in armed forces events, I take personal pride in informing them that, while I am not trained in combat, I am in the business of saving lives. I have always enjoyed helping others. Being a yeoman allows me to help and support those who go out in the eye of the public and execute more tactical or operational missions.

Q. Have you been deployed since joining the reserves? If so, where and when?
A. My husband, Michael D. Skrabacz, Jr., and I are stationed at PSU 313 together. We received notice of his deployment first, in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Shortly thereafter, I was notified of my orders to deploy at the same time. We are unique in this manner, being the only married member-to-member couple in our entire unit, as well as the only couple deployed together. I believe we are the only married couple if you consider the other military branches that are deployed with us, as well.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while on duty?
A. I am essentially an independent duty yeoman, managing pay, administrative and personnel support issues for a deployed crew of nearly 80 personnel. I genuinely care about supporting my crew however I can, so they are able to focus on the more physically-demanding requirements of the mission. I have an open-door policy and have excellent working relationships with my crew.

Q. What do you do on a typical duty day?
A. Each day begins with maintaining accountability rosters in conjunction with our joint task components. We need to stay on top of travel claims, which requires my own continuous education while being able to show others how to process them. So being able to assist and teach my shipmates are valuable skills that I’ve had the pleasure to develop. Undoubtedly, the most enjoyable part of my day includes delivering mail and packages to my shipmates that are from loved ones and home.

YN2 Skrabacz TANEYQ. What’s your most memorable experience since joining the Coast Guard?
A. This may sound overly sentimental, but being deployed with my husband is the most adventurous experience of my life! We were married a mere two months prior to finding out about the deployment, so I feel as if we’re on an extended honeymoon. While we do have our separate jobs, I feel quite lucky that, if either of us had to get deployed, we’re deployed together.

Q. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard? Where?
A. As my career goal was to dive into the tourism industry in Seattle, I worked at a bakery in Seattle’s internationally renowned Pike Place Market. I thrived on meeting folks from all over the planet, coming to vacation in a city I had just moved to myself.

Q. How do you balance Coast Guard and civilian life? Any challenges?
A. As I had so recently come from active duty, I was still in the adjustment phase when I first received notice that my husband was deploying. When I found out that I would also be called up in support of the mission, I felt as though I only had a two-month break and rolled right back into putting on my boots on every day!

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian career and vice versa?
A. One of the most valuable skills I have learned in the Coast Guard is how to be a strong and effective leader. A true leader is one who gets into the dirt and grime with you, setting an example that subordinates want to emulate without regard to job title. I’ve learned from some truly wonderful people in the Coast Guard and hope to be that same kind of leader one day, inspiring those who work with and for me.

Q. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?
A. I appreciate having so recently come off active duty and rolling right into this unique unit. Many think of reserve personnel as those who come into the unit to drill, complete online training and then disappear until next the month. The members of my unit take immense pride in the balance they have with their civilian careers, as well as becoming proficient in a skill set/secondary occupation. A service founded on such a well-rounded workforce can only succeed.

Q. Anything else you’d like for us to know/include?
A. I feel I am in the unique position of being a military spouse, current reservist and prior active duty member. As a result, I am able to see all sides of this organization. I see how the active duty side can benefit from having a well-trained and elite force to supplement missions they cannot. I see the reserve side benefiting from having finely-tuned subject matter specialists, who perform their missions day-in and day-out. As a spouse, I am proud of what my husband does and am able to directly see all of the hard work he devotes. Consequently, I am able to support and encourage him so much more.

YN2 Skrabacz STL USsmall

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