Inspiring Future Leaders: Coast Guard officer shares career insights with Brunswick High School athletes 

In choosing the next steps of his career and life, Storekeeper 2nd Class Petty Officer Andrew Barile found that the U.S. Coast Guard was the best fit for his interests and expertise.

“I found out that of all the branches, the Coast Guard is where I can utilize my skills regarding finance,” he said. “More importantly, I wanted to be part of something greater than myself. Our branch expands beyond military assignments, working alongside various private and public organizations involved in shipping ports, shipping containers, rescue, and safety to name a few.”

Barile recently shared his experience in the Coast Guard with a mixture of 9-12th grade student athletes from Brunswick High School in Brunswick, Ga., speaking specifically of leadership opportunities and teamwork qualities.

“I think it had a very positive impact on all the students that attended,” said Garrett Grady, head football coach at Brunswick High School. “There was excitement; students were asking great questions. I think they were very engaged to learn about the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Grady continued, stating that having Coast Guard servicemembers visit the school to speak with students is an invaluable resource.

“I think it gave some of them career options after high school. We are always trying to develop leaders on the field as well,” he said. “They have information now regarding the U.S. Coast Guard as a career path option and since we now have developed a relationship with the Coast Guard, their questions can be answered.”

Barile echoed the sentiment, noting that high school partnerships, such as the one he participated in at Brunswick facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Coast Guard partner for marketing and local engagement, are able to dispel common misconceptions about military service and reach a new pool of recruits with solid information.

“By us attending high schools and talking to young students, we’re able to paint a bigger picture of what it is that we do and why it’s worth the hard work to get there, he said. “Sharing experiences underway, YouTube videos of current jobs, and talking about a day in the life builds up excitement and genuine interest.”

During his visit at Brunswick, Barile told students about the benefits of a career in the Coast Guard, including tuition assistance, medical coverage, skills cross-training, and building incomparable interpersonal relationships along the way. He also asked them to think about what they want from their life after graduation to help determine the best path for them.

“Yogi Berra once said: ‘If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.’ That quote resonates with me when I speak to young adults at schools. Taking a four-year contract of Active-Duty Service is not the rest of your life,” Barile said. “After a few years in, you can reevaluate where you are and where you want to go. Do you want to attend college afterwards? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to reenlist and try to make rank? Or apply to be an officer? These are the questions that gets young adults thinking and start to take life a little more seriously.”

Building Futures: U.S. Coast Guard highlights educational and financial perks for Weber High School athle

Weber High School in Pleasant View, Utah, recently welcomed two representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard to speak with student athletes about career development opportunities within the military after graduation.

“The Coast Guard offers all the same great benefits as any other military branch,” Operations Specialist First Class Adam Knapper said. “Our missions primarily keep us domestic – the 50 states and American territories. Even four years of service gives you the GI bill, the four-year, full-ride scholarship. The difference with our branch is quality of life and leadership approach.”

Machinery Technician Petty Officer First Class Michael Madden spoke about the strengthened working skills and life experiences he has collected throughout his career and how he never would have encountered them without his service.

“After graduating high school, enlisting in the Coast Guard provides a unique pathway to not only earn college credits but also to cultivate invaluable work experience and skills, positioning you ahead of your peers in both personal and professional development,” he said.

Knapper and Madden spoke with Weber’s football team and other students through a leadership program facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Coast Guard partner for marketing and local engagement, that allows cross-communication between the military branch and high schools across the country.

“Establishing partnerships with high schools can be instrumental in addressing these challenges,” Madden said. “By collaborating with high schools, the Coast Guard can increase awareness of the opportunities it offers among young people.”

Knapper added that many people are not fully aware of what Coast Guard missions and culture entail.

“The current job market is tough,” he said. “The military is affected by this like every other industry. I hope establishing better relationships with high schools improves understanding on who we are and what we do.”

Additionally, Knapper and Madden agree that continuing to spread information about military service and encourage diversity and integration can only make the Coast Guard stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive.

“I joined the Coast Guard in 2011 looking for a better job. I planned on trying it for four years but have stayed in for 13 years,” Knapper said. “The Coast Guard has allowed me to become debt free, as well as live and work in places I really love.”

Madden similarly noted that he loved the financial and educational benefits his time in the Coast Guard has afforded him.

“The Coast Guard enabled me to purchase a house at 26 while pursuing my environmental science degree,” he said. “This opportunity not only allowed me to gain valuable work experience but also sets me up for future job prospects post-retirement.”