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Fear or Respect: Which Do I Want?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link   All Posts
 Jessica Nelson "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." — G. K. Chesterton

Since returning to the Academy, the talk amongst the class of 2014 has been this upcoming summer. Sure, it is packed with Range week, CATP, Rules of the Road, Ludders, and other various weeks of training, but the main focus is the cadre experience. Whether it be as a CGAS, AIM, Waterfront, or Swab Summer cadre, every one of my classmates will be thrust into some sort of leadership experience that will be shaping the future generation of Coast Guard officers. There are mixtures of excitement and terror surrounding my class when we ponder the weight of exactly what we are entering into, and in a few weeks, we will be putting in our dream sheets for what cadre section we want. As such, I figured it would be a good time to reflect upon what type of cadre I want to be.

The general answer to this question is a “respected” one, but of course that answers nothing. Here is a little breakdown. Every former swab has seen both good and bad examples of leadership. I was very fortunate that my Swab Summer experience with cadre was mostly positive, but there are always stories of that one guy/gal who goes on a power trip and “wrecks” the swabs because they think that is the way to earn respect. So this leads me to the question that seems to be circulating around in conversations at the Academy: am I going to be like that cadre?

At the top of this blog, I have one of my favorite quotes. While this quote only embodies a small portion of my leadership philosophy, I think it appropriately sums up my answer to this question. I do not want to be like “those cadre”, because I will not be acting out in hatred towards swabs but out of love for what I am fighting for and that is the Coast Guard and the citizens that we protect. I will correct not to “wreck” the swabs but to instill the discipline that I know will be best for those they will one day save. I want to be a cadre that cares so deeply that my swabs would become successful officers of character that I am not afraid to fight for excellence. To sum it up, I want to be a cadre who is respected, not feared; who acts out in love, not hatred; who demands the best as a means to encourage the swabs to reach the bar but never to tear them down.

More about Jessica.