Frequently Asked Questions

USCG Specific Frequently Asked Questions

For additional coronavirus questions not covered in these FAQ or that your chain of command cannot answer, please e-mail OutbreakQuestions@uscg.mil. To ensure the most timely response, please identify yourself (i.e. military member, civilian, Auxiliarist, contractor, family member) in your e-mail inquiry. 

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ALCOAST 135/20 - RESOURCES FOR COAST GUARD MEMBERS, EMPLOYEES, AND FAMILIES DURING CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 19 (COVID-19) PANDEMIC

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141643 APR 20
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-11//
TO ALCOAST
UNCLAS //N01754//
ALCOAST 135/20
COMDTNOTE 1754
SUBJ:  RESOURCES FOR COAST GUARD MEMBERS, EMPLOYEES, AND FAMILIES DURING CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 19 (COVID-19) PANDEMIC

1. During times of uncertainty throughout history, the U.S. Coast Guard has consistently risen to the challenge of protecting the American people and our way of life. As our global community confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coast Guard continues to perform critical missions that protect our national interests, promote economic prosperity, and ensure public safety.

2. In order to optimize care for our families and communities, it is paramount that each of us remain attuned to our own physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs. This pandemic causes unique stressors on members isolated or restricted in movement, especially during a month when many of us gather to celebrate our faith traditions. The interruption of routines, imposed close quarters (whether alone or with loved ones) and the uncertainty of any timeline for return to normalcy create a perfect storm. Admiral Ray shares some tips and wisdom on how to weather this storm, which is available at this link: https://www.uscg.mil/Coronavirus/Video-Archive/.

3. Many senior CG leaders have been utilizing virtual town halls to stay in touch with our disaggregated workforce and all supervisors should be checking in regularly with direct reports. CG Work-Life staff, chaplains, and medical officers are available to join directorate, division, or unit calls to facilitate opportunities for our workforce (civilians, military, contractors, and Auxiliarists) to address concerns and to help normalize the stress associated with some of the measures we have taken to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.  Throughout this message are for a number of resources available through the Work-Life and Chaplaincy staff that you may find extremely helpful in bolstering the resiliency of our workforce during these difficult times.

4. FINANCIAL COUNSELING:    
a. For those concerned about finances, the first line of financial education is the designated Command Financial Specialist (CFS). For those units without an assigned CFS, email hqs-smb-familysupportservices@uscg.mil or reach out to your assigned Personal Financial Manager (PFM) to obtain the name of a CFS that can assist.    
b. PFMs are available to help answer your questions pertaining to more complex financial situations and can be located via the link: https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/Personal-Financial-Management-Program-PFMP/.     
c. Additionally, the CGSUPRT Personal Financial Wellness Program has unlimited thirty minute telephonic money coaching sessions, online live webinars, and recorded webinars for all Coast Guard member and families via https: //www.CGSUPRT.com or call 1-855-CG-SUPRT (247-8778).

5. SOBRIETY SUPPORT: Many people struggle to cope with additional stress and anxiety and turn to alcohol. With many states closing bars and restaurants, reports indicate that alcohol sales are on the rise, and it is important that you not turn to alcohol during this pandemic and compromise your immune system.    
a. Substance abuse help is always available, to include internet based self-help meetings, at this link: https://www.aa.org/.     
b. Your Substance Abuse Prevention Team (SAPT) is also available to assist anyway they can. To reach a member of the SAPT go to: https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/Substance-Abuse-Prevention-Program-SAPP-Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/.     
c. Substance Abuse Prevention Specialists (SAPS) are also available via the SAPS Duty line at (757) 628-4329.

6. CHAPLAINS: Chaplains are assigned to specific Coast Guard units to sustain operational and family readiness by supporting Coast Guard personnel’s religious rights and needs. Although not a CG Work-Life program, your chaplain is a part of the CG’s overall support system and is available to provide, facilitate, and care for personnel and their families, as well as advise commanders regarding morale and welfare matters.     
a. Chaplains can assist in these uneasy times by coordinating religious accommodations (e.g., dietary restriction while self-isolated or in quarantine), connection to live stream religious observances and offer 100% confidential communication to provide spiritual counselling to our workforce.    
b. To find a current listing of unit chaplain for names and contact information, visit this link: https://www.uscg.mil/Leadership/Senior-Leadership/Chaplain-of-the-Coast-Guard/Locations/ or call, 202-372-4900.

7. COUNSELING: Psychological effects of a pandemic are wide-ranging and adds additional personal and professional stress on our members and the Coast Guard. For assistance coping with the anxiety caused by these unusual circumstances, contact your local Employee Assistance Program Coordinator at: https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/Employee-Assistance-Program-EAP/. In addition, CGSUPRT offers employees and family members confidential, free and immediate help, which is as easy as making a phone call. Callers can ask to speak to a licensed professional clinician, who can safely and remotely conduct telephone or video sessions. Furthermore, the CGSUPRT website has webinars available that address coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety reactions. For assistance call 1-855-CGSUPRT (855-247-8778) or visit this link: http://www.CGSUPRT.com. Finally, support is always available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255 https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. You are NOT alone.

8. HEALTH PROMOTION AND STRESS MANAGEMNT: During this time it is even more important to keep your mental and physical strength, and manage stress. This means eating nutritious meals, getting quality sleep, and getting enough exercise.     
a. The food you fuel your body with dramatically affects how you function, both mentally and physically. Try to cook healthy meals and eat together to reconnect with family to make meal time a positive experience. To learn more about positive nutrition choices, visit: https://www.hprc-online.org/nutrition/performance-nutrition.    
b. The body also needs quality sleep to repair itself, at least 8 hours for adults and even more for children. Try to get into a regular schedule to help regulate your sleep. The following site has more information on sleep: https://www.hprc-online.org/mental-fitness/sleep-stress/.    
c. Exercise is vitally important to assist with mental and physical performance. Proper exercise helps reduce blood pressure and stress. This is a good time to add a daily walk to your routine or other low impact activities to lower stress levels. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines: Aerobic activity: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. Strength training: The Human Performance Resource Center provides information regarding exercise at the following site: https://www.hprc-online.org/ physical-fitness/training-performance/. Caution: If you have not exercised recently or have medical conditions contact your physician before starting an exercise program.    
d. Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. Mindfulness has been used by several different organizations such as elite military forces and professional athletes to help focus on the tasks at hand. In our current situation, focusing on our immediate tasks and not getting distracted by conditions out of our control is extremely important.      
e. Deep breathing, or Diaphragmatic breathing, has many known benefits such as relaxation, lowering stress hormones such as cortisol and lowering your heart rate. One of the biggest benefits of diaphragmatic breathing is reducing stress almost immediately.

9. SUBSISTENCE PROGRAM: Commanding Officers and Food Service Officers should contact the Subsistence Program, CulinaryProgram@uscg.mil and the Subsistence Product Line, SPL@uscg.mil for Coast Guard Dining Facility (CGDF) policy and operational guidance to include: temporary disestablishment of a CGDF, Reports of Survey, Extraordinary Operation Condition requests, and assistance in transfer of stores. The Subsistence Program will review unit requests on the following:     
a. Increase to Maximum Unused Allowance percentage     
b. Authorized Sale of Stores     
c. Annual Inventory Verifications and Cash Audit extensions     
d. Maximum Cash on Hand amounts

10. OMBUDSMAN: Coast Guard Ombudsmen are the official volunteers who serve as the link between commands and families who help to ensure Coast Guard families have the information necessary to meet the challenges of a military lifestyle. Ombudsmen can provide resource referrals so that family issues may be resolved before requiring command attention. If you do not know your unit Ombudsman or are not currently on the Ombudsman distribution list, go to: www.cgombudsmanregistry.org. This link will bring you to the Ombudsman Registry, where you can identify your command/unit and contact the Ombudsman. If you cannot locate your unit, please contact the closest Sector or Base Ombudsman.

11. TRANSITION ASSISTANCE: Many Coast Guard and Department of Defense Transition workshops have been postponed until further notice. All personnel requiring timely accomplishment of TAP can complete online. Contact information for your regional transition manager can be found at: https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/Transition-Assistance-Program/TAP-Contact/. Pre-separation counseling is available on LMS course 10061, or search for Pre-separation. Upon completion of course, members can take workshops on Joint Knowledge Online (JKO) (https://jkodirect.jten.mil) as an alternative as needed. Once there, search for the classes by selecting TGPS in the dropdown window above the PREFIX column, then click the Search button.

12. CHALLENGING ISSUES: Coast Guard leaders remain focused on providing uninterrupted services and support to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.      
a. The DoD Safe Helpline provides support to the CG community if victimized or impacted by sexual assault. It provides live, one-on-one support to victims, survivors, their loved ones and anyone looking for more information. Services are confidential, anonymous, secure and available worldwide. Staff members have been trained to connect with a CG Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARC) if requested. Call DoD Safehelpline at 877-995-5247 or online at: www.SafeHelpline.org and download the app for free for either iOS or Android devices.     
b. The Family Advocacy Program (FAP). Family stressors may increase during this time as we have to avoid public spaces, work remotely and invoke physical distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These external factors add stress and may increase financial strain which often negatively impacts family dynamics and creates circumstances where a family member’s safety may be compromised. If you or your loved one is feeling stressed, first find the time to de-stress and practice self-care before reaching out for help. These simple practices are not only compatible with good parenting, but are also important tools for keeping your family strong and children safe. FAP is available to support you and your family members in a time of stress and when experiencing family conflict, 24/7. If you are concerned about having to isolate in an unsafe home situation or have concerns about a child’s safety, contact the Family Advocacy Program at 800-872-4957, the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-422-4453, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and https://www.thehotline.org/ or CGSUPRT 855-CG-SUPRT, https://www.CGSUPRT.com.

13. LOCAL SUPPORT: Work-Life continues to provide new and timely interventions and supports for our community during these challenging times. We are creatively connecting via technology to offer sessions to promote the wellness of our minds and bodies, to include mindfulness exercises, virtual yoga and stretching, and, of course, tele-mental health services via CGSUPRT. During the COVID 19 pandemic, man of us may experience familial stressors or grief, and seeking counsel or support will not adversely affect our careers. Help and connection is always available, and we are not alone despite the realities of physical distancing.     
a. To contact the Work-Life staff nearest you, please call 1-202-475-5100 and enter the appropriate extension listed below: Alameda (6), Astoria (7), Boston (1), Cape Cod (1), Cape May (2; press 1), Charleston (3), Cleveland (5), Detroit (5), Honolulu (8), Houston/Galveston (4) Juneau/Ketchikan (9), Kodiak (9), LA/Long Beach (6), Miami Beach (3), New Orleans (4), New York (1), Petaluma (6), Portsmouth (2; press 3), San Diego (6) San Juan, PR (3), Seattle (7), St. Louis (4), Washington DC (2; press 2) Yorktown (2; press 3).      
b. You can also locate more resources at: https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources- CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/HSWL-SC/. Your safety and well-being is of our utmost importance. Please share this this message with your family, friends, and don’t hesitate to seek help.

14. FOR TIMELY UPDATES AND RESOURCES, please visit the Official USCG Coronavirus site at: www.uscg.mil/coronavirus. There you will find the following:     
a. Current messages from our leadership regarding continuity of readiness activities, telework capabilities, travel and leave policy, and FAQs;     
b. Support for military families during school and daycare closures, to include free educational resources and;      
c. Additional assistance in response to needs stemming from COVID-19 is being offered by Coast Guard Mutual Assistance at: https://www.cgmahq.org/homePage/CORONAVIRUS.pdf.

15. RADM Dana L. Thomas, Director, Health, Safety, and Work-Life, sends. 

16. Internet release is authorized.