by Rachel Neasham
In this two-part story for Women’s History Month, two sisters from California elected to write one another’s story of service. Read their thoughts and insights about how they have inspired one another and where their respective journeys have taken them.
I remember the day my sister, Brianna, left our small town in California to attend the United States Coast Guard Academy. Our family has a rich lineage of military service, but it was still shocking to me to see her leave. However, her four years at the Academy flew by, and before I knew it, she was back in California while stationed on the cutter USCGC MUNRO, homeported in Alameda, California. I followed along, in awe of my sister’s journey. She went north to provide safety and support for the Alaskan crab fishing season, circumnavigated the globe to assist with humanitarian operations off the coast of Thailand following the 2004 tsunami and answered the call as part of one of the first joint response missions for the Somali pirate hijacking of a Thai fishing vessel off the coast of Yemen.
From there, my sister went to law school at George Mason University, while working at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. After finishing law school, Brianna transitioned to the Coast Guard Reserves and now serves as an ethics attorney with the Department of the Interior. My sister has seen and accomplished so much. I am proud of her accomplishments, but I deeply admire the way in which she has conducted herself and continually challenged preconceived notions of women and women in service. I know that Brianna is grateful for all the Coast Guard has given her, and she will always strive to pay it forward.