Coasties Thriving Together
Coasties Thriving Together is an independent action team comprised of volunteer Coast Guard veterans serving survivors of military sexual and physical trauma. We provide a platform for information sharing and resource availability, third-party external recommendations, and a community of compassionate allies dedicated to thriving, not just surviving.
Our Core Values
Integrity is our standard. We demonstrate uncompromising ethical conduct and moral behavior in all our personal and organizational actions. We are loyal and accountable to the trust of those we serve.
We value our diverse colleagues who have experienced a range of traumatic events. We treat each other and those we serve with dignity, respect, and compassion and without judgement. We consider all communications as confidential within the bounds of the law, and through positive, constructive discussions without the call-out culture. We work as a team.
Devotion to Thriving
We are volunteers who want Coast Guard veterans to flourish. We exist to continue to serve, connect survivors with support, call for accountability, and provide education where policy or legal limitations and constraints lie. We serve with pride.
We stand Always Ready to shape policy, identify gaps in governance and resources, call for accountability, and recommend innovative and inclusive solutions to help our own thrive after experiencing trauma.
The Independent Action Team questions the trustworthiness and credibility of the Coast Guard, and Coast Guard Academy in fully caring for survivors of military sexual and physical trauma. As survivors, friends of survivors, and leaders, we know this is not just an Academy problem, but a Coast Guard problem. We also know that at the Academy and in the Coast Guard military sexual assault and harassment still exists despite efforts to reduce or eliminate it from its ranks. The environment of hazing, bullying, and harassment went unchanged for decades leaving many survivors in its wake without acknowledgement or trauma treatment.
Although locating recent data specific to military sexual and physical trauma in the Coast Guard is sparse, the 2021 Improving the Representation of Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities Among U.S. Coast Guard Active-Duty Members, commonly known as the RAND Study, does shed some light on this as a Coast Guard problem. According to the Study, “thirty percent of female enlisted personnel (compared with 4 percent of male enlisted) and 20 percent of female officers (compared with 3 percent of male officers) indicated that experiences involving sexual harassment or sexual assault were retention considerations,” (Rand, Table 5.6). Additionally, “47 percent of female enlisted personnel (compared with 5 percent of male enlisted) and 54 percent of female officers (compared with 6 percent of male officers) indicated that they are sometimes unfairly singled out because of their gender,” (Rand, Table 6.4).
As women and men with no positions and no authority we intend to have a voice, say “No more” and ensure substantial actions are taken. We also intend to provide a virtual safe haven for all to congregate, share, and receive the support needed to not just survive, but to thrive.
- Rand Corporation. (2021) Improving the Representation of Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities Among U.S. Coast Guard Active-Duty Members. Table 5.6.
- Rand Corporation. (2021) Improving the Representation of Women and Racial/Ethnic Minorities Among U.S. Coast Guard Active-Duty Members. Table 6.4.
In June of 2023, CNN exposed a secret investigation into alleged sexual abuse at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy uncovering a history of rapes, assaults and other serious misconduct being ignored and, at times, covered up by high-ranking officials. The probe’s findings, “Operation Fouled Anchor,” completed in July 2019 had been kept confidential by Coast Guard senior leadership. Operation Fouled Anchor focused on reports of sexual assault at the Academy between 1992 to 2006.
Operation Fouled Anchor, named after a ship’s anchor entangled around itself, was launched in 2014 when an academy graduate claimed her allegations of rape from years earlier had never been investigated. While looking into the woman’s case, agents determined her allegations and more than two dozen other reports of misconduct had essentially been buried by academy leaders. And as they continued digging, they unearthed more than 90 potential assaults from the late 1980s to 2006. “There was a disturbing pattern of not treating reported sexual assaults as criminal matters,” the Coast Guard’s draft report reviewed by CNN stated. In some instances, school officials at the time recommended launching criminal inquiries into alleged assaults only to be overruled by top leadership at the academy, according to records reviewed by CNN (Blake Ellis).
Shortly after the initial CNN report, Admiral Linda Fagan emailed the entire Coast Guard workforce in which she said, “As your Commandant, I am personally committed to a culture of transparency and accountability regarding our efforts to prevent and address the scourge of sexual assault” and, “We own this failure, and on behalf of the United States Coast Guard, MCPOCG [Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard] and I apologize to each victim and your loved ones,” (Letter from Congressmen Jamie Raskin and Bennie G. Thompson).
A letter from Congress dated July 13, 2023 stated “In fact, it seems likely that absent a media inquiry or some other spurring event, the existence of the Fouled Anchor investigation would never have become known to Congress or the public, much less to the CGA community. The failure of the Coast Guard—which is itself a law enforcement entity—to properly handle allegations of sexual assault among students at its own Academy is stunning and inexcusable. The Coast Guard’s subsequent choice to withhold information about what it had uncovered regarding its institutional failures is also deeply disappointing and frankly calls into question its commitment as a whole to address the institutional failures that are revealed in the harrowing findings of the Fouled Anchor investigation,” (Ibid).
Of particular concern is the apparent lack of interest or desire in looking at any sexual assaults prior to 1992. The Leadership Team unequivocally knows sexual assault (once women entered the Academy in 1976) has been occurring at the Academy, yet no one in a leadership position is willing to acknowledge the historic significance of this. It also is possible that male survivors of harassment and assault live in the shadows from the shame long before 1976 and in the years since. Furthermore, no leaders have defined this as a systemic problem.
- Blake Ellis, Melanie Hicken and Audrey Ash. “Criminal investigation into Coast Guard Academy revealed years of sexual assault cover-ups, but findings were kept secret.” CNN. June 30, 2023.
- Letter from Congressmen Jamie Raskin and Bennie G. Thompson. Congress of the United States. Addressed to Admiral Linda L. Fagan, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard. Dated July 13, 2023.
Due to the need for confidentiality, all those interested in joining will be required to undergo a formal application process.
To ensure the safety and well-being of members, admittance cannot be guaranteed. To begin the application process, please fill out the “Request Membership” form.
- Our top interest is providing a safe, secure, and trusted site to communicate about a charged topic – sexual assault and sexual harassment. Therefore, our intention is to expand access to this site in phases, monitoring our success along the way.
- Phase 1 will consist of Coast Guard Academy women and men survivors and those previously identified friends.
- As we monitor and assess the success of Phase 1, we will begin opening the site to others in the Coast Guard. The Team’s ultimate goal is to make this site available to all Coast Guard women and men, officers and enlisted.
Open actions in Phase 1 to current and former members of the Coast Guard.
Review standing minutes, reports, and other relevant documents. Conduct interviews as appropriate. Identify gaps in data, policy, resources, and inequities. Provide recommendations to interested parties.
Work to document the historical implications and lessons learned from what is discovered during the effort. With consent, provide oral or written histories to be included in scholarly academic research efforts. Non-attributional statements and other important historical documents are preserved so to not lose all aspects of the important historic nature of this time in Coast Guard History.
The Department of Homeland Security nor the U. S. Coast Guard does not approve or endorse this effort, its products or services. The appearance of U.S. Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Coast Guard visual information does not imply or constitute DHS or USCG endorsement.