The Millennial Factor: Auxiliarists Under 40

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Demographics of the Auxiliary. This infographic summarizes diversity of the Auxiliary and its need for an increased younger age presence. The map does not include Auxiliarists in Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. EDITOR’S NOTE: Graphic for New Hampshire has been updated. USCG Auxiliary graphic by Andy Winz.


The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is more than 30,000 members strong. With multiple Auxiliary units in all but two states, membership in the Auxiliary shows no signs of slowing down. However, when the public sees the Auxiliary in action, who are they typically looking at? The average member is a 64-year-old, Caucasian male. More than 90 percent of Auxiliary members are over the age of 40. Fifty percent of members are over 60 and only 4039 members are 40-years-old or below. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary must recruit young members in order to thrive for another 75 years.

Article by Andy Winz, 33, Branch Chief – Web, Human Resources Directorate


Auxiliarist Daniella Garrisi operates the helm during crew training.  USCG Auxiliary  photo

Auxiliarist Daniella Garrisi, 21, operates the helm during Boat Crew training. USCG Auxiliary photo by John Frassanito.

A survey was sent to several Auxiliarists under age 40 throughout the country seeking input as to why they joined the organization, how long they have been a member and what they would tell younger audiences about joining the Auxiliary. Anderson Braswell – 31, James Chin – 27, Daniella Garrisi – 21, and Clint Wells – 32, all stated that they joined the Auxiliary to help other people, serve their country, and enhance their own education and experiences. The Auxiliary offers a plethora of certifications and missions for its members. “The great thing about the Auxiliary is that you can be proactive in as many programs as you want and you don’t have to participate in programs that you’re not interested in,” said Wells. “Whether you want to be out on the water as Boat Crew, working a Public Affairs Booth, doing Vessel Exams and/or helping out with administrative duties, your work will be valued and will help make a difference.”


Sitting in the copilot seat of a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, Clint Wells receives instruction from active duty staff at Coast Guard Air Station Los Angles. USCG Auxiliary photo.

Sitting in the seat of a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, Clint Wells, 32, receives instruction from active duty staff at Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles. USCG Auxiliary photo.

The Auxiliary has taken a major step in recruiting younger generations of members with the Auxiliary University Program (AUP). The AUP is a college program in which a college or university creates a local detachment of members who complete a structured program to grow their skills as Auxiliarists, students, future members of the military, and leaders in society. Many continue on after graduation as active members in their local flotilla. Perhaps flotillas can take a page from the AUP manual and institute a “new member bootcamp” or training program that can be embraced by the younger generation while being mentored by the experienced older generation. The Human Resources Directorate is currently developing a “New Member Orientation” program that will be revealed at the 2014 National Auxiliary Conference.


Auxiliarist Anderson Braswell conducts a pre underway check before a patrol.  USCG Auxiliary photo by Auxiliarist George Langdon.

Auxiliarist Anderson Braswell, 31, conducts a pre underway check before a patrol. USCG Auxiliary photo by George Langdon.

The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, like any organization, is a fluid animal that relies upon its members to grow and support its missions. Working together both the younger generations and the older generations can grown in experience, recruit more younger members and truly solidify the Auxiliary’s role as a part of Team Coast Guard. “This is definitely an organization that gives back as much as you are willing to put into it and more,” said Chin. “If you are enthusiastic and willing to learn and help, the Auxiliary will provide you the training and opportunity to use your skills and time to help your country.”


Auxiliarist James Chin acting as a field coordinator, gives a mission briefing. Over twenty Auxiliarists helped on Saturday at the Intrepid and Campbell. USCG Auxiliary Photo by Intrepid Staff.

Auxiliarist James Chin, 27, gives a mission briefing for Fleet Week 2014 in New York City. Over twenty Auxiliarists augmented the active duty at the Intrepid and USCGC Campbell. USCG Auxiliary Photo by Intrepid Staff.

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  1. Dwight J. Dutton says:

    One of the surprises I got when I joined this organization was that as a 52 year old I was in the younger half. While VSC’s and Classes are important, potential new members in the 30 something range are going to be attracted by boat, air and radio missions.

    • Dr. Mitchell T. Kamlay says:

      I have very strong feelings concerning this matter! Therefore, I may not be “Politically Correct” in all my statements. I have been an active Member of the Auxiliary for 18 years now. Much of my time has been with the Active Duty, so I have a different perspective. I will start with a statement I have always made concerning recruitment. “We recruit at 17, not 71 years”. Do I need some Diversity Training maybe, but that is how the situation is. Having an average of 64 years definitely makes the Auxiliary appear as a retiree’s organization. The ancient requirement of having to own part of a boat is long gone except in the older Member’s mind. Yet they have poisoned recruiting. I have seen more than 18 younger recruits discouraged by this falsehood.

      A third of our Members are +70 years. I have seen younger Perspective Members treated like grandchildren, this does not promote recruitment. Who wants to join the Babushka Club. Myself, I have been talked down to as if I did not know anything about boats and seamanship. Elderly people can act that way and not realize it.
      The Human Resources FSO’s are not aggressive and dynamic. Perspective Members are invited to a Flotilla meeting, which is a business meeting. These are boring if you are not there for business.

      Our current Membership does not function in venues where they meet younger people to encourage recruiting. They do not associate regularly with younger people. So how can they recruit people less than 60 years of age?

      Many Members, especially FSO-HR’s, are not aware of all the opportunities that the Auxiliary offers. They do not go to the CGAUX web site. They dislike, disdain and avoid social media as if it were a social disease. The Internet, what is that? E-mail, I read it occasionally, etc. The AUX FSO-HR should be a dynamic person, knowledgeable about not only the Auxiliary but also the Coast Guard.
      I could continue but only people that use current media would read it. Those that need to would not. Maybe I could print this and mail it to them.

  2. Frank B says:

    I agree with Dwight… As an Auxiliarist who joined in my 30’s, I was amazed at the barriers thrown up to *discourage* people from entering the air program.

    Apparently, the air program was only for a “select few” – actual air experience being irrelevant…

  3. Rejected says:

    I applied to USCG OCS years ago and they wouldn’t take me because I was in excess of 185 lbs (played D-1 college football). I figured if I joined the Auxiliary, serve 50 years, rack up every qualification possible, and maybe even save a life or two, I will have effectively made my point.

  4. Randy McCormick says:

    I look at recruitment as simply return on investment. There is a significant cost to recruit, train and retain a member. Who do I think my prime candidates are? Those about to retire or just retired who have minimal family obligations (no kids in the house), plenty of spare time on their hands, money in their pocket and most of all, feel the need to give back to the community that has served them well while in their younger years. I am generalizing here…Too many young folks are here today and gone tomorrow because of obligations. So for me…50 is the new 30.

    I am curious…rolling back the clock to the point where the Aux was the largest, what was the demographic then? Probably not that much different than today…I simply think it is a lot more tougher and demanding to be an auxiliarist than in the past in terms of all the compliance requirements and ever increasing policies and restrictions placed upon us.

  5. NJ Marinaro says:

    I strongly disagree with recruitment as a return on investment as was described. I just made the average and have been in the Aux many years. The more active I became the more I realized how much it is a fraternity. I have seen arrogant, stupid comments posted on public media sites alongside photos of the auxiliarist in uniform. Computers have been around for a few years and I still get people who cannot do basic PC (or iPhone) work. If you look at the web sites from some flotillas and higher, they haven’t been updated since 2007. So for the past seven years nothing has happened? Here today and gone tomorrow? Perhaps they get inside and see their options then realize out is a valid option.

  6. Randy McCormick says:

    I keep hearing “recruit younger people.” How old is “younger people”? I am simply saying younger to me is 50’s…not 20 or 30’s…My opinion.

  7. Hereford Bull says:

    Physical and Tactical ability’s needs to be addressed.
    Image is Everthing.
    There needs to be a more Military Training program for those who
    Can Preform.The image cast by the AUX kinda sux.
    Let me see the Few Good Men you have! Shamefully after all the yrs the AUX as served there is still no Delta Force like units.
    Until things change to reflect the times Of War we are now in The AUX has no crediablity to younger memebers as well a waist corrent members who have the skills for such units.Std’s atleast need to change.
    I know my skills and I also know I could build a few elite units out of members in place now.Strong as a Bull,Fear Nothing units who could push the Qween Mary off a Sandbar for FREE.Work the hell out of those who CAN.These men are a complete un-used force in times when they are needed most.Its time for the Bad-Boyz of the AUX be seen.
    Always Ready and Fear Nothing!Image is Everything

    and has willingness to take on a more tactical role.
    There is no reason not to offer these members a Boot Camp litraining program.There are members who enefitnifit from such training in return the Whole Country reap reepbenefitsifits.
    This group will cast a better upon apond the AUX as a Shamefully to much talent is unseen as well untapped.
    Times have changed people.The AUX needs a new image

    • FutureBoy says:

      I am meeting with my local flotilla in two weeks for possible entry. I am 40 years old and have been a member of the Texas State Guard’s Medical Rangers for 6 yrs. I am ready to exit the group satisfied that I did an awesome job there. I want to continue to serve my state, country, and community, so I am looking to get into the USCGA. The woman I have been speaking to sounds nice and respectful…after reading all this I hope that the flotilla will be the same. I am also an EMT, CNA, Medication Aide, Behavioral Tech, and EKG Tech. I just want to continue to serve. I hope I can.

  8. Jan Robert Munroe, DIR-U says:

    The average age of an Auxiliarist is 64, BUT, only if we include retired members (and some who’ve died and not been removed from the retired roles.)

    Someone forgot to chose only “active” members in AUXINFO. “Inactive” members are retirees.

    I’m sure that you’ll find that the actual average age is in the mid to high 50’s.

  9. New-ist Member says:

    I am a relatively new member. I joined when I was 31. And many of the above comments are true – A lot of old men who think they know everything. It really becomes offensive after awhile. However, this type of behavior can be seen in all walks of life.

    I am in agreement with Hereford Bull – I would like to see some more “tactical” use of my abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I clearly understand that auxiliarists cannot participate in missions of direct law enforcement and military operations, but it would be nice to be more hands-on.

    More opportunities for training would be nice too. I live in South Florida and a lot of the members are snow-birds. So there is absolutely not training during the summer months. That is completely unfair for me. Over that 4 month period, I am certain there is a huge drop-off of young membership. For the sole reason of no available training.

    If the AUX really wants more young members, then they need to revisit how, when, and the frequency of training. A young individual, like myself, will get bored and quit, unless challenged with training.

  10. Martin says:

    I joined fairly “young” (43), but I believe I look and act 10 years younger. This said, I also felt the old folks’ attitude of knowing everything. However, others were very open to keep me under their wing and help. It could have turned into something boring, but I found joy and usefulness by actively looking for and engaging active duty Coasties, especially as part of the Marine Safety efforts. I got qualified as a container assistant inspector and got valuable training and experience from those folks. This is a good reason to join and remain.

  11. Dave says:

    Joined the aux two years ago when I was 24- and yes my flotilla was struggling hard with many senior members (average age for the flotilla was around 65). The new face was welcome, and one of the older guys who had been in the aux for decades took me under his wing and explained the lay of the land. It can be pretty uncomfortable to be the youngest guy in a room of 100 people; makes you wonder why/ how you ended up here and if you should even bother.

    But then you get involved in operations and working with the gold side and realize that yes, there is youth in the CG. Personally, I think the CG should try to break down many of the barriers between silver and gold- 1SR has done pretty well with that- but you get some old fuddy duddy thinking this ‘kid’ is a waste of time and energy and it can really put a damper on things. I suppose it is all a matter of how and who you surround yourself with.

    To my friend in FL- go visit the local CG station- shoot the poop during the summer and get your TCO and sit a few watches. I am sure you will meet some awesome gold side guys that will want you to get more involved with their stuff!

  12. Susan says:

    The Auxiliary as a needs to do a glass ceiling audit. It is not just age that is a barrier.

  13. NJ Marinaro says:

    I have to agree with Susan. There should be term limits.

  14. Headwinds says:

    I joined three years ago at 32. My Flotilla was losing prospective members constantly. Within two weeks of having my picture taken I was in boat crew training and aux op courses. A month or so later I was on the water training. I loved every second of it. But after that first season the reality of the situation crept in.

    Activity is what keeps my generation going. I have personally watched countless individuals around my age come to a few meetings and then disappear after realizing that when training is not being conducted flotilla meetings are basically a supper club. I tried to entice those prospective members to stay until the season started as activity would increase but to no avail. My division’s leadership defines activity as all the programs available in the auxiliary. Basically, you can be “active” as long as your doing something other than what you really want to be doing.

    Seeing members who are barely able to lift a soda can let alone lift a person from the water qualify as boat crew really got to me. Someone earlier mentioned ego being a contributing factor and I must agree. My ideas on modernizing our recruitment and training techniques (utilizing social media, recruiting around our most active time of the year, utilizing portable projector based simulators for off season team building) are either ridiculed, ignored or perceived as “impossible”.

    America’s volunteer lifesavers.

    I joined to save lives. I didn’t join to hand out flyers, put stickers on boats, play with a giant radio controlled boat or cook meals. Not that there is anything wrong with those things but I feel that my generation joins for one reason and then is pushed into doing something completely different. I want to be the best crewman and eventually coxswain I can be. Why would anyone be looked down upon for seeking out better training and studying more than they ever did in college for the auxiliary? Ego.

    If you want to attract younger generations you have to have younger generations offering programs that interest younger generations to younger generations.

    • Steve B. says:

      I joined the Aux. 38 years ago at age 20. It inspired me to join the regulars. I later became a commercial salvage Captain. I have seen the Coast Guard’s mission change throughout the years. Laws and restrictions have definitely effected our job in the Aux. SAR, which drew me into the Auxiliary at a younger age, was a major aspect. Public Education and Vessel Examinations have always been, and still are, major components of the Auxiliary. The Auxiliary has definitely gotten older on average with alot more paperwork!
      What will inspire younger people to join the Auxiliary should be a major focus. I believe prior Coasties should be encouraged to join for multiple reasons. The mission and duties of the Coast Guard are understood by these individuals. Younger Auxiliarists are key to attracting other young individuals. Some may be inspired to join the regulars or reserves. Many others would enjoy and appreciate the opportunities offered by the Auxiliary. It would take time, but eventually the Auxiliary would be stronger for the future challenges and overall younger in age of it’s members. SEMPER PARATUS!

  15. New-ist Member says:

    Dave, I’ve been trying to remain active with my flotilla, but what really aggravates me is that I have remained in AP status for the past 18 months. When I ask my FC or another officer, I get no response. I understand that things are backed up recently, but 18 months is way too long. How does the Aux plan on retaining new members if they can’t clear PSI any quicker.

  16. Hal says:

    So I’m thinking about joining the Auxiliary in Seattle. I had a great meeting with the Flotilla Commander and HR Staff Officer. They were both about my age (29) or a little older. It seems like a great opportunity to learn a lot of new skills over several years, serve my community/country and network. I am attending my first flotilla meeting later this month, and I’m looking forward to scoping out the demographics for sure. Anyone have any advice before I take my next steps? I already completed some of the requirements. Thanks!

  17. Mike says:

    For those of us that have been former CG it’s pretty funny that we still have to do a PSI. 18 months and not being able to train is disappointing but it’s part of the course! I have to wait and get my 214 papers and then start the process over again..Maybe the Aux should have someone working along side those that do the background checks to help move along the paperwork! Would help the regulars as well as Aux! By the way, our meetings are at my last duty station! I’m 53 years old and would love to join the reserves but that won’t happen! So looking forward to new chapters ahead!

  18. Patty says:

    Yours is a clever way of thniikng about it.

  19. Geoff says:

    I have been a part of the coast guard auxiliary for 6 years now. I am 27 years old and to be a part of this service has been the greatest experience of my life. Anybody looking to join our organization will be joining a large family. Everyone looks out for each other and are always watching out for their communities. We are Semper Paratus

  20. Jamesj1911 says:

    I’m 46 and just joined the Auxiliary last week. My experience so far has been good. I’m starting my Crew/Coxswain Class this weekend. I joined to help people and serve my country. I’ve only been to one Flotilla meeting and definitely felt like one of the younger people there. I was also the only African American at the meeting. I hope that I can help bring a younger and more diverse image to the Auxiliary. Even if that doesn’t happen I intend to be the best Auxiliarist I can. I’m in fairly good shape but intent to get as close as I can to USCG PT Standards.

  21. Headwinds says:

    The answer to recruitment and retention is simple. More time on the water. You will find that more flotillas that have boats and actively patrol retain membership as the flotillas who focus on Pe classes and ves numbers dwindle. It’s the coast guard! It’s implied that you can be out on the water training and save lives. Younger people come for this and leave for the lack of this. The organization as a whole needs to offer more assistance to flotillas who want to become more operational. I propose a becoming an operational flotilla guide that assists fc’s and vfc’s in acquiring the tools and/or funding necessary to keep their respective flotillas active.

    • Jamesj1911 says:

      I agree. I’m looking forward to getting out on the water this summer. That is a big draw for me. I also plan to get qualified for PE and VE but that is mainly to get a better understanding of all that goes into boating and hopefully make me an even better boat crew member. My Boat Crew Class was mostly younger Auxiliarists (under 45 yrs old) from various Flotillas in our area. As far as diversity goes. There was one female and again I was the only African American in the class. I attended the Spring Conference for our District. It was a great experience and everyone was very welcoming. There was more race, gender and age diversity there among Auxiliarists and even Gold Side members. I was also encouraged by the relationship I witnessed between the Silver and Gold Side members.That was true during my Boat Crew classes, which were held at the local Coast Guard station. It’s truly been a Team Coast Guard experience so far.

  22. Patrick says:

    I went to join an Aux flotilla here in Md I am 34 and a military veteran and own and live on a 1953 34 foot patrol boat and have multiple friends who own boats here in the marina and were going to join, however not only was communication from them not very good but when we went to visit meeting we were very taken aback we were looked down on, they told us our tats would have to be covered which none of them violate the uscg tat policy etc. We decided to walk back out and join a FD with a marine unit instead, the AUX lost 3 ham radio operators, 2 veterans, 2 emts and firefighters, and boat crew members etc. I came across this article today because we have been trying to find another local flotilla or what we are really thinking ( which this area needs) trying to figure out how to charter a new flotilla if that is even possible, I could not agree more with this article.

    • admin says:

      Patrick, Thank you for your servce and desire to continue serve to our great country. I have forwarded your information to senior leadership for them to think about for recruiting and retention of volunteers. You’re living a great life on a patrol boat hopefully the Auxiliary can welcome you. The US Power Squadron is not affiliated with the Coast Guard and has very similar missions without the uniform codes of the military. Sorry for the bad impression from an otherwise diverse accepting volunteer organization of older persons typically. Tom Ceniglio -Deputy Director of Public Affairs, prior 1LT, Infantry, US Army Reserve.

  23. Tom says:

    I joined after 9/11 at age 48. Now thirteen years later, I can say the Aux gave me a wonderful opportunity to serve my country. I started out slow as my children were young. I did what I can but eventually aspired to be a division commander which I did about three years ago. I was too young for Vietnam and too old for Desert Storm. I always wanted to serve as my father and both grandfathers served in WWI and WW2. You have to figure out what your area of interest is and go for it. Work around the stubborn members who can be discouraing or find a flotilla that meets your needs. Now at age 61 and soon to be retired, I plan to stay and give back to younger members. I love being on the water as crew member and even received a Letter of Commendation from the Commandant for a life saving incident. Recruitment is a challenge as younger people have less exposure to the military from their parents as I did. Life has so many distractions for younger people today it takes a special person to join and do all that is asked by the Auxiliary. We may have less members but I am willing to bet aux has more dedicated members. As flotillas struggle for leadership maybe the higher ups can think about restructuring and not having flotillas but just divisions? What about having those active divisions be given an used USCG patrol boat that could help attract new members?

    • Nicole says:

      Doing away with flotillas would actually make the Auxiliary less functional in states such as Alaska, where the need for an Auxiliary is quite high.

      I live in Kodiak, Alaska, part of Division 2 in District 17. District 17 covers the entire state of Alaska, which has roughly 700,000 people spread out over a huge area. Division 2 is based in Anchorage and covers basically the entire state except for the Southeast portion. Distances between flotillas can be several hours, and some units such as Kodiak are on an island and therefore geographically isolated from the rest of the state. Therefore, a lot of Alaska’s Auxiliary activity takes place on the flotilla level, because it’s generally not feasible or practical for members to travel to interact with other flotillas.

  24. Johnny A. Guard says:


    I joined CGAUX in my late 30s and left after 4 years, in good standing. Did some good missions, got some good free training, helped public safety a little, made some friends, got to wear uniform, serve community, salute etc.

    But also put up with a lot of BS described by other younger posters. (Note that Gold side service is not all peaches and cream either, but they get paid). I too joined to serve on boats like the real Coast Guard, period. Not to argue at expensive dinner meetings in shorts and T shirt, and attend picnics. Only a small and ever shrinking fraction of the CGAUX are operational on boats and aircraft, and fewer still serve more than their annual minimum hours, yet awards and ribbons are doled out constantly. Hey man, its all good. Whatever it takes to motivate people. Hard work should be recognized, and man do. Towing a boat out of gas for 10 minutes to its marina, is called a “search and rescue”. Um, OK. Its a nice way for citizens to earn a bang for their tax buck.

    When the many turn offs outweighed the benefits (turf wars, expenses, arrogance, squelching innovation, arguments, ya know the usual in many volunteer orgs), and I had put in my time and “been there, done that”, I decided to pack it up on a high note. I too did not join for a supper club, a fair weather boating or yacht club, award and ribbons program, or a seniors day program (though I genuinely enjoyed hanging with these cool folks and military vets). At their age, if I’m still around, I’ll probably be a couch potato. To be honest, this whole adventure was a great diversion and hobby, for a genuinely good cause.

    Its best to leave on a high note and think positively. Remember, in the military, people are usually only active for 3-4 years, and they pack it up. I let that be my example.

    Let’s face it, the majority rules, and that is mostly what it is. There are always exceptions. When I am in my 50s or 60s, this will be the perfect thing for me. I may try to join again if it still exists. Hope so. Nobody joins mid career, and mid child raising, but I pulled it off for a few years. Its been an overall good ride. I always try to be positive in life. I’m glad they let me serve and wear the uniform.

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