The Coast Guard expects its members to display everyday good manners and appropriate military courtesies. Here is a brief look at the social expectations at common military ceremonies and social situations.
Knowing when and how to introduce people is important. If you do not think people know each other, introduce them. If you are not sure of how to introduce people, just use common sense and do it in a way that is comfortable for those involved.
Some easy rules are:
All ranks are introduced by complete title. For example, a Chaplain is called “Chaplain” and a doctor or dentist is “Doctor.” The term “Captain” is used for the commanding officer of the ship. Refer to the Workforce page, to review officer rank and enlisted pay-grade information.
Coast Guard spouses receive invitations for social functions, such as teas, coffees, and luncheons. Attending these functions will not only help you make new friends, but also provide an opportunity to learn about the many resources in your area.
Invitations should include information on the event, location, and any dress guidelines. If the invitation reads “Please Respond” or “RVSP,” it is polite to reply within two or three days after receiving it. If you accept, you should attend. A thank-you note is respectful after the event and is a thoughtful way to thank your host.
When to arrive and when to leave
Arriving late is inappropriate and often viewed as discourteous. If you are detained and will be delayed longer than 15 minutes, call the host. Punctuality is important.
Visiting On Board a Ship, Cutter, or Boat
Guidelines to follow if you are invited on board a Coast Guard vessel include:
An invitation should state the form of dress expected for military and civilians attending. Sometimes, but not often, the meaning of the type of clothing may vary depending on the location. If you are unsure of the meaning of dress, do not hesitate to call the host and ask.
Civilian dress codes for the most common functions are listed below:
Social functions do not require you to spend a lot on your clothes and a wardrobe becomes “new” all over again each time you move.
When driving a car on a military installation and “Colors” or “Retreat” (when the national flag is hoisted at eight o’clock in the morning or lowered at sunset), is sounded, stop the car and wait until the ceremony has been completed. If walking, stop, turn toward the flag and stand at attention with your right hand over your heart.
When the flag is displayed during the playing of the national anthem, all present, except those in uniform, should stand at attention facing the flag, with the right hand placed over the heart. Persons in uniform stand and render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and hold their salute until the last note is played. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.
Naval Services FamilyLine publishes “Social Customs and Traditions of the Sea Services” that provides additional details. This booklet and many others are available at www.nsfamilyline.org/.
"Semper Paratus" (Always Ready), The Official Coast Guard Marching Song
Words and Music by Captain Francis Saltus Van Boskerck, USCG; Words and Music Copyright by Sam Fox Publishing Co, Inc.