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Blessed to Have My Family as a Support System

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Kirsten Sharp

As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been reflecting a lot on what I am thankful for. Food on the table, a job, clothes on my back, a roof over my head. All of these things make me comfortable, and I am very thankful to the Coast Guard for providing all of that for me. But, I think I am most thankful for my family.

These are the people who raise me, love me, and support me through everything. Coming to the Academy was a huge decision because it meant leaving behind everyone that I knew and loved for the previous 18 years of my life in exchange for visiting every now and then, whenever the government allowed me. And part of that is true; cadets only really get a half week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks for winter leave, and a week for spring break, which makes it hard for international cadets or people from the West Coast to go home frequently.

But, there are many other opportunities that the Academy offers to be able to see family. We have Parents’ Weekend at the beginning of the first semester of every year. The Academy invites families to come to their cadets’ classes on Friday, see their rooms in the barracks, and stay in the area through the weekend. Cadets that have a star or two can take Recruiting Leave, which allows them to be home for a whole week over Thanksgiving instead of a few days. If there is an emergency, cadets can take Emergency Leave to go home.

I am also very lucky to have such an understanding family. I told my parents when I came to the Academy that I was going to travel as much as possible, because I had been living in the same place for my entire life, and was ready to see what else the world had to offer. My parents were thankfully very supportive of this endeavor. Even when that means that sometimes I substitute leave at home to go to one of my friends’ houses somewhere different. My parents always just say “as long as that is going to make you happy ‒ you know where we live, and the door’s always open for you!”

I’m so blessed to have the support system that I do, and it is always important to take a few moments to be thankful for everything you have in this life. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!