Semper Paratus. Always Ready. It is the motto of the United States Coast Guard. It defines both the institution and the commitment of the individual women and men of the Coast Guard. Selfishly, it has also become the expectation of the rest of us that rely on the U.S. Coast Guard for help. Collectively as a nation, when emergencies occur, we always assume the U.S. Coast Guard will be there to help.
Because of the Federal Government shutdown, U.S. Coast Guard personnel are no longer being paid their salaries - but they are expected to continue to work. The same holds true for hundreds of thousands of other federal government employees.
In times of crisis, such as when coastal cities and towns are being evacuated due to hurricanes, the women and men of the U.S. Coast Guard are arriving on scene - often engaging in search and rescue efforts while putting their own lives at risk. While we enjoy our holidays with our families, the U.S. Coast Guard, along with many other federal agencies and employees, are standing watch, keeping us safe.
U.S. Coast Guard personnel deserve the respect of what should be a grateful nation. Instead they have become pawns in a struggle between political parties and ego. Casual indifference is not valid public policy. We should not punish them for public service. The women and men of the US Coast Guard deserve better. We deserve better. Governing shouldn't be this difficult. U.S. Coast Guard personnel put themselves in harm's way on a daily basis. They put service to their country before all else. It's time the rest of us do the same.
John McLaurin is President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA). With offices in Oakland, Long Beach and Seattle, PMSA is a west coast maritime trade association representing ocean carriers and marine terminal operators on a variety of local, state and federal issues. Mr. McLaurin has been with PMSA in his current role since 1995. In addition to PMSA, Mr. McLaurin has also worked for the Marine Spill Response Corporation, American President Lines and the American Petroleum Institute.
Mr. McLaurin has a Bachelors Degree in Political Science Public Service from the University of California at Davis and a law degree from Southwestern University School of Law. Mr. McLaurin has previously served on the Board of Regents of St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA; the California Oil Spill Technical Advisory Committee; Board of Directors of the San Francisco Marine Exchange; member of the Seamen's Church Institute Development Committee; San Ramon Valley Unified School District Special Education Task Force. He was a recipient of the 2013 Connie Award.