Meet Your Coast Guard Reserve

This is the eighteenth 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 First Class Kay Dolan
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
District 13 Reserve Force Readiness Branch (Seattle)
 Dolan in Kuwait

Q. Where is your hometown?
A. Issaquah, Washington

Q. How long have you been in the Coast Guard?
A. Thirteen years in April, all reserve time. This includes multiple short-term mobilizations and one overseas deployment.

Q. Why did you join the Coast Guard? Why do you stay/what keeps you motivated?
A. I wanted to be on the water. I thought the Coast Guard might provide some great opportunities to experience a change of scenery and meet some great people, too.

Q. Have you been deployed since joining the reserves? If so, where and when?
A. I’ve been on Title 14 orders twice and Title 10 orders twice. For Title 14, I deployed to St. Louis during Hurricane Katrina and to PACAREA (West Coast Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Alameda, California) for surge staffing during Deepwater Horizon. For Title 10, I helped to stand up the Servicing Personnel Office in Seattle. Additionally, I deployed to NCWRON34 (Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron 34) in Seal Beach, California and Kuwait in 2006 – 2007.

Q. What are some of your responsibilities while on duty?
A. I manage budgets, maintain personnel readiness metrics and am constantly reviewing policy updates to ensure we are in compliance with current guidance. During high-tempo periods, I review reserve orders and ensure proper funding is available. Lastly, it’s important for me to stay connected with other yeomen to see if they have any official or unofficial news to pass.

Dolan in Kuwait 2Q. What’s your most memorable experience since joining the Coast Guard?
A. When I was deployed to Kuwait, in addition to our day-to-day missions, our unit was involved in a very solemn duty. The Marines on base would call to request support for soldiers and peacekeepers who were killed in action. We would render honors, regardless of what time of day or night our fallen comrades would arrive at our base. In all, we rendered honors to 51 soldiers and peacekeepers during my time in Kuwait, which was a responsibility we were proud and grateful to provide.

Q. What is your occupation outside of the Coast Guard? Where?
A. I am an air traffic controller at Seattle Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZSE) in Auburn, Washington. An air traffic control center has different responsibilities than a tower or an approach control, which are at or near airports. We conduct hand offs, keep a close eye on air traffic volume in our region and regularly communicate with pilots. Our area of responsibility is large, including several states and approximately 5000 square miles of airspace.

Q. How do you balance Coast Guard and civilian life? Any challenges?
A. Sometimes very poorly. My civilian job can be quite taxing and sometimes leads to scheduling conflicts where the Coast Guard might take a back seat. Being an air traffic controller requires long hours and set schedules. In my current role with the Reserve Force Readiness Branch, it is more convenient for me to drill during the week. Being in the Coast Guard is a commitment I’ve made and my civilian employer understands that. I just work it out the best I can.

Q. Are there any skills you’ve learned through the Coast Guard that you apply to your civilian career and vice versa?
A. Probably the most important skills I learned in the Coast Guard that apply to my civilian job are attention to detail and closely reading policy and procedures. Sometimes it’s as simple as spelling mistakes, however, in a safety-related job, wording makes a difference. In the Coast Guard, not understanding policy changes can cost members money or opportunities. In my civilian job, it can cost lives and multi-million dollar assets. Detail is important and I maintain the same rigor and attention to detail in both of my careers.

DolanQ. How does being in the reserves impact the service as a whole?
A. I think reservists bring alternative thinking to our units and jobs. When anyone performs the same exact function every day, it is often helpful to have a different perspective. Reserve members have a huge range of experiences to draw from that benefit the Coast Guard.

Q. Anything else you’d like for us to know/include?
A. I have a degree in Economics from Claremont McKenna College, but didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. Even after joining the Coast Guard Reserve and deploying multiple times, I did not have much focus when it came to my civilian career goals. I got lucky when I came back from Kuwait, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was desperate for air traffic controllers and that interested me. I applied through USAJOBS and, following an extensive screening process, went through four months of training in Oklahoma City. Once someone completes additional training at their assigned facility, usually two to five years, an air traffic controller can operate on their own. Between the Coast Guard Reserve and the FAA, I’m now very fortunate to have the best of both worlds.

On a separate note, I thought you might enjoy one of my favorite recipes:

Chocolate Raspberry Jam Bars


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 package (11-1/2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks
1/4 cup chopped walnuts


1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugars and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup for topping; press remaining crumb mixture into a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Spread with jam; sprinkle with chocolate chunks.

2. Combine walnuts and reserved crumb mixture; sprinkle over the top. Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Yield: 16 servings

Dolan and Kuwait group

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