So, not everyone may know this, but the Coast Guard guards our coasts. Really. Confusing, I know, but it makes sense if you think about it. And one of the things that keeps them the busiest, is stopping the flow of illegal drugs.
There’s this myth that drugs flowing into our country are mostly on the back of (or in the bowels of) immigrants used by the cartels as “mules”. This does happen. But it is not even close to the majority of drugs entering our country. No, the vast majority enters through legal points of entry as part of regular shipping traffic. The Border Patrol tries to find the drugs hidden in the trucks and cars coming through our points of entry by land, and the Coast Guard does its best to stop anything coming in by sea. And, don’t kid yourself, that’s a LOT.
The Coast Guard doesn’t just wait until the drugs are about to cross the border either, they’ve got agreements with other countries in the neighborhood to help patrol 6 million square miles of ocean to try to stop the drugs from getting into any of the transit nations along the way to the US. It is a huge job that they are uniquely suited to do and they do it well.
And this is, of course, on top of all the other work they do. Like pulling sailors out of dangerous waters by helicopter and rescue swimmer, making sure our waterways have safety markers to keep ships from running aground (or worse), protecting the marine environment, and, of course, enforcing immigration laws by sea.
But, another thing you might not know is that the Coast Guard isn’t a part of the Department of Defense. Not anymore. It was moved into the Dept. of Homeland Security back in 2003. That means the current partial government shut down, which doesn’t include the DoD, does include the Coast Guard. These men and women who are guarding our coasts are doing so without getting paid.
You may also not know that a significant portion of our armed services are paid at or below the poverty level. They’re living paycheck to paycheck, while doing some of the most dangerous work in the world. And that includes the Coast Guard.
Yes, there are programs in place to make sure active duty service members and their families won’t lose their homes during a shutdown or similar crisis. Yes, they will get back pay. Yes, they will be taken care of… eventually.
But that isn’t really the point, is it? The point is that these brave men and women are doing their jobs, protecting our borders, without getting paid because there’s currently a fight among stuffed-shirts in D.C. about protecting our borders. It is beyond belief, and yet there it is.
I know you and I can’t do much. But do what you can. Contact your representatives. Urge them to compromise. I don’t care if you are “red” or “blue”, in favor of the wall or shouting for impeachment, neo-liberal or democratic socialist, without compromise, we’re all going down together. Demand better from your “representatives”, or demand better representatives.