By Anastasia M. Devlin
Reserve enlisted leaders featured in recruiting campaign -
RESERVIST Magazine, Issue 4 2018
Over the summer, the Coast Guard Recruiting Command partnered with Buzzfeed on a photo essay that highlighted 10 women in the Coast Guard. The article, “10 Pieces of Advice from Badass Women of the Coast Guard,” featured three reservists: Petty Officer 3rd Class Brittny Thompson, Petty Officer 2nd Class Chrissie Edwards and Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Sprout.
Apart from Thompson’s Type III uniform, the women blend in with their active duty shipmates. Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen and his team at CGRC’s marketing division worked to identify operational and support ratings, active and reserve members and, among the reservists, members of the blue guard (sectors and stations) and green guard (port security units and coriverons).
“I wanted to get as much of a broad-spectrum representation as possible,” said Ameen. “My main job is like a producer; I scour the service, looking for the right people to place into our advertisements. That’s the benefit of being a PA [public affairs specialist]. You develop a network.” Many people remember the late-night television and radio commercials of the mid-1990 and 2000s, but as technology changed, so did CGRC’s approach to finding the Coast Guard’s newest recruits.
“The principles of recruiting don’t change, but the platforms do,” said Ameen. “Every single job in the Coast Guard is open to everyone, and we’re getting that message to the people via the platforms they’re already on. We’re on Instagram doing Instagram stories. We have the chat program—if potential applicants have a question, they can instantly talk with a recruiter. It’s a full-time social effort.”
Thompson, Edwards and Sprout gave great leadership advice in each of their quotes, and based on their contributions to the Coast Guard’s missions, it’s no surprise that they were chosen to represent the best of the service.
Brittny Thompson - ME3, Port Security Unit 311, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Brittny Thompson has come a long way. PSU 311’s jack-of-all-trades petty officer was recently featured in the Buzzfeed article “10 Pieces of Advice from Badass Women of the Coast Guard.” In her quote, she said,
“…never give up… always put forth the effort to make it to the next level. We are stronger than we think, and we can accomplish anything we put our minds to. Always use positive influences to fuel your passion to become a better person, and always surround yourself with like-minded people who want to be successful."
Thompson’s words came from a storied past. A decade ago, she wasn’t on the best side of the law. In fact, while in high school, Thompson found herself hanging out with the wrong crowd and doing things she wasn’t proud of.
She laughed, thinking back to her rowdy days. “When I was sitting in the back of a police car, I’m looking at the police officer in front, thinking, ‘I want to be doing his job.’”
She remembered one officer, and older man who shook his head and told her she’d never be able to get a good job continuing as she was. Thompson was determined to prove him wrong.After high school, she enrolled in college, and chose criminal justice as her major.
She started to realize she had a passion for law enforcement.
Two weeks after completing her bachelors in 2011, Thompson enlisted in the Coast Guard, and sought to become a maritime enforcement specialist (ME). She was disappointed to find out that she’d be on the ME A-school list for four years. But she was a hard worker, always seeking additional responsibilities. While working at the damage control (DC) shop at her first active duty unit in Sector Port Angles, Wash., the crew started to recognize Thompson’s spirit and initiative.
“I think my master chief knew I was bored at the sector, but he allowed me to do a lateral move to the station,” said Thompson. “I struck BM [boatswain mate] there; I was one of thelast people to make it through the striker program.”
Thompson left active duty in 2015 and became a federal corrections officer. At night, she worked on her graduate degree, earning a master’s in forensics.
But as a new member of the Reserve, she said her new unit, PSU 311, was a game changer for her. She went through Basic PSU school, a training course for all new PSU members.
“I got really good at the weapons,” said Thompson, who’s been deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since early spring.
Her command recognized Thompson’s skills and attention to detail, and they asked her to become a PQS administrator for the unit’s weapons program. She’s even been to engineering school. She maintains all the unit’s law enforcement gear, though she added, “I didn’t realize how much work goes into it, especially before an RFO [ready-for-operations evaluation].”
“I do more things here as a reservist than I ever did on active duty,” said Thompson. “I’m more hands on here.”
The Long Beach native said she was thrilled to be chosen for the Buzzfeed article last summer, and she was surprised to see how far reaching the news of her appearance was. High school friends contacted her and tagged her in social media posts, and old shipmates reached out to congratulate her. Her quote meant a lot to her because of her background, and she said, “I thought it would be a great exposure for the PSU.”
Thompson’s dedicated to her unit.
“PSU is a reserve unit, made up of reservists. We only have like six active duty members there, and that’s it. There’s a lot of opportunities, a lot of funding. In the blue guard, as a small boat station reservist, all my gear would be hand-me-down, but at the PSU, there’s opportunities and they support us. We have to be ready, at all times, to deploy within 96 hours.”
Thompson is torn, because she was just hired by Customs and Border Protection, and she’s considering an assignment in Honolulu, yet another facet to her career of law enforcement experience.
However, that might mean leaving her PSU, which is based in California. Thompson said she would miss the “green guard.”
“You know, I’m a very active person, I want to be a boarding team member, boarding officer, and I’m willing to work on my own time to make that happen. I want to be at a station that has those same opportunities for reservists.”
She might keep the door open to further deployments, volunteering with the Coast Guard’s other PSUs as they rotate through Guantanamo Bay on nine-month security duty.
“I just like deploying,” said Thompson. “I joined the Coast Guard with the intention of being hands on.”