Reunions discouraged during Operation Fireside

Family & Friends,


Many of you know your loved one is scheduled to dine with a host family over the holiday season as part of Operation Fireside. Each holiday season a handful of family members travel to Cape May, N.J., to attempt to reunite with their recruits during Operation Fireside for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The staff of neither Training Center Cape May nor the Southern Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross will field these requests or make arrangements for off-base reunions during Operation Fireside. We strongly discourage, and do not support, any attempts to reunite with loved ones during Operation Fireside.

Operation Fireside is not off-base liberty or leave. Participating recruits are involved in an official military community relations program, and while we hope they relax and enjoy themselves, they are representatives of our service to the community and must act as such. The recruits have been ordered not to coordinate family reunions during Operation Fireside, and the coordination of discreet or secret meetings is contrary to our Core Values and the spirit of program – for which they would be held accountable.

Family reunions during Fireside are detrimental to the focus and military bearing of recruits in critical phases of the basic training process. Recruits are placed in a highly-controlled, highly-stressful training environment in the eight weeks they are aboard Training Center Cape May, and emotionally charged events (like brief reunions) can hamper the recruits’ concentration or motivation during key points of training, which may negatively impact a recruit’s ability to succeed.

Operation Fireside has enjoyed three decades of success and has given thousands of recruits a home for the holidays. Many Coast Guardsmen and other services members won’t get the opportunity to spend the holiday season with a caring and generous family. They are deployed in the U.S. and abroad conducting our nation’s important, and sometimes dangerous, work. Therefore, loved ones of Coast Guard recruits should find some comfort in the fact their recruit will have more than most service members will this holiday season – a loving home.

We do look forward to hosting you aboard Training Center Cape May in the near future as we all celebrate your recruit’s training completion at our formal graduation ceremony!

Semper Paratus,

The Command Staff,

Coast Guard Training Center Cape May