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Authority and Guidance for Coast Guard personnel                          


  1. In what types of community activities may USCG personnel participate?
  2. May USCG personnel participate in commercial events?
  3. May USCG personnel participate in political events?
  4. Dealing with Political Candidates and Political Campaign Organizations
  5. How should units handle requests by the public for Coast Guard speakers?
  6. How may units obtain Coast Guard artwork and exhibits?
  7. Is Coast Guard artwork available for office decoration?  
  8. Are portable backdrops available for units to use?  
  9. How do units make a request for an exhibit or artwork, and what fees are involved?
  10. How should Coast Guard units support aircraft exhibitions?
  11. What types of volunteerism does the Coast Guard support?
  12. What types of national organizations, including veterans groups, does the Coast Guard support?  How should units support these organizations?
  13. How can units arrange CGC EAGLE port visits?
  14. How can units arrange for local Coast Guard Band concerts?
  15. The Coast Guard Band Annual Tour  
  16. How can Coast Guard units request support from the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard?
  17. How may Coast Guard units participate in the naming of cutters and shore facilities, including buildings and roads on Coast Guard installations?
  18. How should units handle requests from outside organizations and commercial entities to use the words " U.S. Coast Guard," and Coast Guard insignia, such as the Seal, Emblem and Mark?
  19. Coast Guard Official Symbols
  20. May the Coast Guard provide flags to other organizations?  
  21. May units provide photos for promotional material?
  22. How can my command recognize and honor community members who strongly the support the Coast Guard?
  23. What does it mean for a city to be designated "A Coast Guard City ," and how does a unit nominate its city for such designation?


In what types of community activities may USCG personnel participate?


The Coast Guard participates in official civil ceremonies, including inaugurals, dedications of public buildings and projects, ceremonies for official visitors, and the convening of legislative bodies. The Coast Guard may - and should - participate in patriotic programs, national holiday celebrations and events open to the public with no charge for admission. Use of uniformed Coast Guard personnel as ushers, escorts, doormen, drivers, etc., for non- military guests or local dignitaries is generally inappropriate.

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May USCG personnel participate in commercial events?

The Coast Guard may participate in commercial events under certain conditions. The Coast Guard generally may not participate in events that charge for admission, unless our participation is incidental to the program, is patriotic in nature, and does not benefit or appear to benefit selectively the commercial activity of the sponsor. The Coast Guard may not participate in events that charge for admission if our participation is, or could be considered to be, the primary or major attraction. As an example, a color guard appearance at a professional football game is incidental to the event, is not designed to be a drawing factor for the game and does not add to the spectators' cost.

The exception to this rule is athletic events at the Coast Guard Academy , for which admission may be charged.

USCG personnel may participate in ethnic observances, such as Saint Patrick's Day, Black History Month, Mardi Gras, etc., if the occasion is formally declared a civic celebration by a mayor or governor, or a civic non-denominational group, and if the event is not sponsored by an ethnic, religious or fraternal group. The observances must not take on political overtones.


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May USCG personnel participate in political events?

All personnel - military active duty, reserve and civilian - are encouraged to personally participate in the elective process with their right to register and vote, but must exercise care in keeping personal activities and official activities separate.

Coast Guard personnel, in uniform, must not participate in political party conventions or campaigns. Participation of the President does not change this prohibition, unless the White House specifically requests the appearance of uniformed Coast Guard personnel, in which case the request must be cleared by Commandant (CG-09223).

The use of Coast Guard personnel or facilities, implying in any way the endorsement of a particular candidate, is forbidden. Federal law prohibits the participation of Coast Guard personnel, and the use of Coast Guard facilities, for partisan political purposes. The Coast Guard does not provide facilities, bands, color guards or other military support for political candidates (either incumbent or new office seekers), or their staffs, for political assemblies, meetings, fund-raising or other partisan activities. Political candidates for elective office may be given the same access to units to which any other visitor is entitled.


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Dealing with Political Candidates and Political Campaign Organizations

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How should units handle requests by the public for Coast Guard speakers?

Coast Guard units are encouraged to establish Speakers Bureaus. Local units who are unable to accommodate requests are encouraged to seek support from local Auxiliary units, who may have auxiliarists available and prepared to conduct such briefings.


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How may units obtain Coast Guard artwork and exhibits?

Commandant (CG-09223) maintains an inventory of original artwork, including oils, acrylics, watercolors, bronze statues and ceramic statuettes. This artwork is available for exhibit by Coast Guard units, veterans' organizations, museums, libraries, civic leaders or organizations or any other entity that would assist in raising the visibility of the Coast Guard. Requesting units or organizations are completely responsible for the safety and continued good condition of the artwork while it is in their custody. The original artwork is a unique way to depict the Coast Guard's rich heritage. Artwork has been arranged into several general and mission-specific exhibits of 10-30 pieces. These exhibits and art easels for displaying the art are available by placing a request through Commandant (CG-09223) at least three months prior to the intended event. Art exhibits are available for short-term exhibits (two to seven days) or as long as several months, as long as the art is actively exhibited. Commandant (CG-09223) provides a list of the art, titles, photos and captions for local reproduction for use as a handout.


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Is Coast Guard artwork available for office decoration?

Original artwork from the Coast Guard's premiere art collection is not used for office decoration, except for certain high-level offices such as the Commandant's. Units desiring high-quality photo canvas reproductions of Service art may contact Commandant (CG-09223) for details. Units must bear all costs for the reproductions, including framing. Color corrected negatives may be loaned to photo contractors when the reproduction process is available at the local level.


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Are portable backdrops available for units to use?

The portable backdrops maintained by Commandant (CG-09223) are a great way to separate the Coast Guard from the crowd at special events such as command exhibits, recruiting efforts, school career days or civic meetings. The backdrop is an 8-feet-tall-by-10-feet-wide concave stand. The bright blue fabric panels create a suitable platform to post the following, using Velcro: unit photos, informational posters and graphics. Units may request up to two backdrops for a maximum of one month. Units with a frequent need for backdrops should purchase their own. Contact Commandant (CG-09223) for information on purchasing a backdrop. Coast Guard units are responsible for the security and continued good condition of the borrowed exhibit.


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How do units make a request for an exhibit or artwork, and what fees are involved?

Send exhibit requests to Commandant (CG-09223) three months in advance. Include the name and location of event, complete shipping details, duration of event, date exhibit should arrive, and the name of the Coast Guard representative.

Exhibits are shipped by commercial carrier. Headquarters pays for shipping from the Exhibit Center . The requesting unit pays return shipping, or shipping to the next exhibit location.

Generally, two or three people are required to set up and take down the exhibit, carefully following the instructions inside the packing crate. You must also provide two or more people who can effectively engage the pubic for maximum effect and to provide security.

Commandant (CG-09223) does not pay exhibitor or space fees for loaned exhibits or artwork. The requesting unit is responsible for all such local expenses: electricity, set up, staffing, security, etc.  Handouts are not supplied with exhibits.


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How should Coast Guard units support aircraft exhibitions?

Requests must be submitted in writing on Form DD2535 (Available here) to the appropriate area commander, in accordance with Chapter 4, Section P.3. of the Coast Guard Air Operations Manual, COMDTINST M3710.1 (series).  Coast Guard aircraft may participate in appropriate public events that help contribute to recruiting or public knowledge of the Coast Guard.  Participation may be a flyover, demonstration or static display. Appropriate events include airport dedications, air shows, expositions and fairs.

Static displays must be held at airfields or heliports. The district commander may authorize exceptions when an alternative display area meets operations and safety requirements. While the aircraft is on display, crew members must be available to brief visitors and prevent damage to government property. Civilian sponsors must agree to provide or reimburse transportation, meals, and quarters costs of Coast Guard participants. Sponsors also must provide suitable aircraft fuel at military contract prices. Sponsors are required to pay all costs over military contract prices, including any transportation and handling charges, if fuel is not available at such prices.

Aerial demonstrations must be within FAA guidelines and must be over open water or suitable open areas of land, where spectators will be safe.

Flyovers are appropriate for civic-sponsored, public ceremonies such as: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day and for similar local holidays overseas; memorial services for dignitaries of the armed forces or federal government; national conventions of veterans' organizations; and occasions of more than local interest designed primarily to encourage the advancement of aviation.


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What types of volunteerism does the Coast Guard support?

One strong volunteerism program is "Partnership in Education." The Coast Guard encourages commands at all levels to support "adopt a school" efforts. Volunteer activities can include tutoring students, supporting extracurricular activities, etc. See Coast Guard Partnership in Education: 2000, COMDTINST 5350.22 (series) for guidance on setting up a partnership for your unit. Private Schools. The Coast Guard can support private schools, including establishing Partnerships in Education, when participation clearly supports education or recruiting.

As an extension of the Partnership in Education program, the Coast Guard has established a national partnership with First Book, a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to give disadvantaged children the opportunity to read and own their first books. Commandant (CG-09223) is the Coast Guard's national coordinator for the partnership.

Support for First Book is voluntary and is to be provided as operations permit; additional information is provided in Partnership with First Book, COMDTINST 5350.5. Support may include but is not limited to making spaces, facilities and vessels available to:

Participation in local programs of drug awareness education is encouraged. While the Coast Guard's involvement in drug law enforcement causes its members to be perceived as authorities on the subject by the civilian community, Coast Guard personnel should generally limit their comments to operational activities of the service.

Team Coast Guard is encouraged to participate in community environmental cleanup activities including Earth Day, beach cleanups and Adopt-a-Highway programs.


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What types of national organizations, including veterans groups, does the Coast Guard support?  How should units support these organizations?

The Coast Guard works with several service-oriented organizations, including: The Navy League, The American Legion, the Coast Guard Combat Veterans Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars and others.  Suggested activities can be, but are not limited to: inviting organization leaders to Coast Guard ceremonies; providing color guards for their ceremonies; recognizing their exceptional efforts; providing speakers, tours, cruises, videos, pamphlets, etc., to help keep the leaders abreast of local, district and national Coast Guard matters.

Commandant (CG-09223) is the primary Coast Guard contact for all types of national organizations and the editors of their internal publications. These include service-related, youth and other groups. District commanders designate liaison officers to work with regional leaders of national organizations.  Local unit commanders deal directly, and to the best of their commands' abilities, with local chapters, except in the Washington , D.C. , area, where groups should be referred to Commandant (CG-09223) for support.


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How can units arrange CGC EAGLE port visits?

Requests for EAGLE port visits should be directed to the Commanding Officer, CGC EAGLE.  The Coast Guard receives more requests than can be accommodated without interfering with EAGLE's training mission.  Requests or recommendations on domestic port visits should arrive at the Academy not later than 1 September the year before the cruise.

The Executive Officer, CGC EAGLE, authorizes guests to sail aboard EAGLE. If it appears that there will be several requests in your area to ride aboard the EAGLE, the unit commander should designate a representative to coordinate local requests and work with EAGLE's executive officer.

The Superintendent, USCG Academy , in cooperation with Commandant (CG-09223), coordinates community relations support for port visits and conducts related promotion efforts.


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How can units arrange for local Coast Guard Band concerts?

First, note that there are several restrictions on use of the Coast Guard Band:

Coast Guard commands may request appearances at ceremonies and other events, such as changes of command, dinings in, retreats, etc. The requesting command must fund transportation, lodging, meals and other incidental expenses. Ample planning may allow for a band visit during a scheduled tour, reducing unit costs. Background, dinner, dance or other social music for service-sponsored events are permitted only for events held at military installations.

Requests for the band at public events must be in the best interests of the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard will participate only if the event (parade, concert, etc.) meets general community relations criteria, at no additional cost to the government. The sponsor must fund transportation, meals, lodging, promotion efforts, ticket printing and distribution, programs, sites, and all incidental expenses connected with the appearance. Such funding is legally considered as a gift. Commandant (CG-00), Commandant (CG-09), Commandant (G-CFP), area commanders, MLC commanders, district commanders and the Coast Guard Academy superintendent all have the authority to accept offers by outside sources to pay for band travel.


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The Coast Guard Band Annual Tour

The band conducts a regional tour each year, with free public concert appearances. Coast Guard families and friends are encouraged to attend when locations are convenient. Daytime school visits are often included in the band's tour.

Tour schedules are normally decided one year in advance and generally do not allow for added performances. If you want your community considered in a future tour, submit your suggestion early.  Commandant (CG-0922) funds tour transportation and per diem. Local sponsors are required to fund and carry out promotion, ticket printing and distribution, programs, sites, and all incidental expenses connected to the performance.

Newspapers are generally the most capable sponsors. While the band generally visits large communities, travel is limited to two hours between sites. This allows the band to serve smaller communities and perform in schools during the day.


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How can Coast Guard units request support from the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard?

The Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard is stationed at U.S. Coast Guard Telecommunications and Information Systems Command, Alexandria , Va. The Ceremonial Honor Guard is under the direct control of the Military District of Washington and loaned to the Coast Guard for special events. The Military District of Washington uses the Ceremonial Honor Guard for White House functions, dignitary visits, state funerals and other high-level, official ceremonial events.

Within the Ceremonial Honor Guard are separate teams - a precision drill team, a parade unit and a color guard. These units may be available for public performances; however, official Honor Guard activities take priority over other appearances. Submit requests to Commandant (CG-09223) for engagements outside Washington , D.C.

Coast Guard requesting commands must fund all transportation, lodging and meals and other incidental expenses. Requests from the public for events must be in the best interests of the Coast Guard and the event sponsor. The Coast Guard will participate only if the event meets general community relations criteria and is without additional cost to the government. The sponsor must fund transportation, meals, lodging, promotion efforts, ticket printing and distribution, programs, sites, and all incidental expenses connected with the appearance.

Neither the Ceremonial Honor Guard, nor its units, go on tour.


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How may Coast Guard units participate in the naming of cutters and shore facilities, including buildings and roads on Coast Guard installations?

The Commandant has appointed a standing board to make recommendations for cutter names and to review nominations for facility names. Chaired by the Chief, Office of Public Affairs, the board sends recommendations to the Commandant for final approval. The remainder of the board consists of representatives from Commandant (CG-005), (CG-00B), (CG-37), (CG-4), (CG-09224) and (CG-09223).

District commanders and commanding officers of headquarters units should submit nominations to Commandant (CG-09223) at least six months before the expected dedication date. Commandant (CG-09223) can help research names if asked far enough in advance (6-12 months).

Buildings are named for deceased individuals with historical significance to the Coast Guard. They include Coast Guardsmen who are: firsts/lasts, died in action or line of duty, heroes, famous lifesavers, or known for some heroic deed. The board also will consider Coast Guard-related heroes; Life-Saving, Lighthouse and Revenue Cutter Service personnel; lifesaving medal winners and people having a significant impact on Coast Guard history.

Outdoor facilities (athletic fields, port facilities, air fields, hangars, etc.) are named for cutters, historically significant people, famous battles, nautical terms, noteworthy rescues, or former lighthouses, light stations or lifesaving stations.

The board has delegated to unit and/or installation commanders the authority to name roads, streets, avenues and drives.


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How should units handle requests from outside organizations and commercial entities to use the words " U.S. Coast Guard," and Coast Guard insignia, such as the Seal, Emblem and Mark?

Federal law (14 USC, Section 639) protects the words " United States Coast Guard," or any variation thereof, including but not limited to "USCG" and "U.S. Coast Guard." This law prohibits the use of these words as part of a business name; for the purposes of trade or business; or as part of any advertisement that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the individual, business or association has any connection with the Coast Guard. The law also prohibits anyone from falsely representing that any project, business, product or service is in anyway endorsed, authorized or approved by the Coast Guard.

Commandant (CG-09223) approves all commercial use of the Coast Guard names or official symbols. District Public Affairs officers are not authorized to approve use of Coast Guard protected symbols. Districts should refer requests regarding clearance to Commandant (CG-09223).


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Coast Guard Official Symbols

U.S. Coast Guard Heraldry, COMDTINST M5200.14 (series) defines the official Seal and Emblem and prescribes their use. Coast Guard Regulations and 14 USC, Section 638, prescribe use of the Coast Guard Emblem, Ensign and other identifying insignia, which includes the Coast Guard Mark.

The Coast Guard Seal is a pair of crossed anchors superimposed by a life ring with shield and surrounded by a line grommet. The Seal must not be reproduced outside the Coast Guard. The wall plaque reproduction of the Seal may be loaned on license agreements to service-related organizations by Commandant (CG-09223). Temporary use of the plaque by Service-related organizations is approved. Exceptions include allowing use of the Seal in most instances where all other service seals will be displayed.

The Coast Guard Mark ("racing stripe") and/or Emblem (similar to seal but without line grommet) must not be reproduced outside the Coast Guard without approval. Vendors or others wishing to reproduce these identifying symbols must submit an outline of the intended use and a copy of the proposed design to Commandant (CG-09223).

The Coast Guard has both an Ensign (vertical red stripes) and a Standard (white field with blue eagle).  The Ensign is a symbol of United States Coast Guard law enforcement authority and is, by law, restricted to official use only.  The Coast Guard Standard is used during parades and ceremonies and is adorned by our 34 battle streamers. Service-related organizations may use the Standard on temporary loan with approval from Commandant (CG-09223).


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May the Coast Guard provide flags to other organizations?

The Coast Guard cannot donate or sell flags to individuals or organizations. Flags of historical interest or value should be sent to the Coast Guard Exhibit Center.


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May units provide photos for promotional material?

Upon request, the Coast Guard may supply official photographs for use in promotional material only if approved by Commandant (CG-09223). Official photographs are available on the Coast Guard Imagery database, accessible through the World Wide Web at http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php. Commandant (CG-09223) will coordinate with units to provide appropriate photos to commercial entities.


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How can my command recognize and honor community members who strongly the support the Coast Guard?  

Public Service Awards recognize private citizens, groups or organizations for helping the Coast Guard carry out its missions. Awards can serve to both recognize those who have helped us and to encourage others in a position to contribute. Each award signed by the Commandant must be sent to the Commandant via the Office of Public Affairs (CG-0922) for processing. Any Coast Guard member can nominate an individual or organization for a public service award through his or her chain of command. The level of award should be determined by the extent of the contribution, not necessarily by the stature of the awardee. For concerns about what level is appropriate, contact your district public affairs office. For details on eligibility criteria and the various types of Public Service Awards, consult Chapter 7 of the Public Affairs Manual.


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What does it mean for a city to be designated "A Coast Guard City ," and how does a unit nominate its city for such designation?

The Commandant takes great pride in the many services provided by the men and women of the Coast Guard to American citizens in general and, in particular, to the residents of the communities in which they are assigned. It is the intent of the "A Coast Guard City" designation program, in accordance with federal law, to provide for the recognition of those cities that, in return, have made special efforts to acknowledge the professional work of the Coast Guard men and women assigned to their area by regularly reaching out to them and their families and making them feel "at home at their home away from home." Such efforts should be indicative of a longstanding and enduring relationship with an emphasis on considerations the community has made for the members of the Coast Guard family and their dependents.

To be designated "A Coast Guard City," a city or municipality must make a formal request by letter, signed by the mayor or city manager, addressed to Commandant (CG-092), 2100 Second St. SW, Washington , D.C. 20593 . The request must include a narrative of no more than two pages describing its relationship with the local Coast Guard unit(s) in terms that would be indicative of a proactive, systematic outreach and support agenda based on community-wide efforts. In addition, the city must provide a separate document listing specific examples of actions the community has taken and events it has sponsored that would be descriptive of how it has reached out to Coast Guard personnel, welcomed them into the community, and embraced them in a full community partnership.

A board comprised of Commandant (CG-092), (CG-00B), (CG-0922), (CG-0921), (CG-11), and (CG-0944) will review the request, consider recommendations from the appropriate field commands and, should the request meet the requirements detailed below, provide a recommendation to the Commandant. Upon approval by the Commandant, the appropriate congressional committees will be notified and a required 90-day waiting period will begin. With no dissent from either committee, the requesting city will be proclaimed to be "A Coast Guard City."

The proclamation will have a five-year term after which the city will be required to apply for recertification. Recertification is an abbreviated form of the procedures required for the original request in that the city need only provide a letter six months prior to the end of the five-year term describing its on-going relationship with the Coast Guard with examples of their recent programs and projects. As with the original request, letters requesting recertification should be addressed to Commandant (CG-092), and go before the Board.

Additional information about designation criteria and requirements, as well as background information on the designation, are found in Chapter 7 of the Public Affairs Manual.  Questions regarding this program should be directed to the Community Relations Branch of the Office of Public Affairs in Coast Guard Headquarters (CG-09223).


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   USCG Internal Resources      External Community Organizations 
Authority and Guidance America's Waterway Watch
 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC)  Boating Safety
Naming Board Requests Military Service Organizations
Public Service Awards Youth Organizations
Partnership in Education (PIE)  

Last Modified 8/8/2013