Letters From the Front!
By LT Graciela Fuller, USCG
My name is Graciela Fuller, and I am an officer serving in the Coast Guard since 2008. Perseverance has played an important role in my life. It became instinctual in my youth when my family and I immigrated to the United States from Venezuela. We spoke no English, and I had to learn quickly. Not only to help my family assimilate into a new culture and society, but for me to be successful in school. Although I was only 12 years old at the time, that experience shaped my life aspirations for higher education and a meaningful career. It is for this reason that I enlisted in the Coast Guard at the age of 18. My experiences in the service have been rewarding and have honored those aspirations.
Enlisting in the Coast Guard was the best decision I ever made. My first eight years in service, I was an intelligence specialist; I had the ability to use my language skills to assist in our counterdrug mission and also served in the Counterintelligence Service. Upon finishing my Master’s degree, I applied for a commission and became an officer. As an officer, I have served in Intelligence and Response. Currently, as a command duty officer, I get to lead Sector Puget Sound’s Command Center for 24-hour periods, where we respond to multi-mission cases that necessitate Coast Guard action, these include law enforcement, environmental protection, and search and rescue. The demands of this job have been arduous, often requiring 20 hours+ days, but also the most rewarding; seeing firsthand how teamwork aids in life-saving.
Next year, I will be attending law school through a Service funded program. I am humbled and excited about this opportunity. I will be able to focus on my studies and become the best attorney possible to then serve as a Coast Guard Judge Advocate (JAG). I hope that as a JAG I can give back to a service that has given me so much.
The best part of the Coast Guard is the family that I have built through my service. While hard work and perseverance have certainly played a key role in where I am today, I would not be here were it not for the mentors and shipmates who have taken the time to mentor, encourage, and whom have shared their own aspirations with me. The best advice I could give any Latina who has an interest in or is in service, is to find a good mentor. When you achieve your goals do not forget to look back and become a mentor for someone who aspires to follow your path. Also, never forget that somebody is always watching, be the leader that as a junior member you wanted to see. One of the most rewarding things I have experienced so far is seeing my little sister follow in my footsteps. She is now a petty officer in the Coast Guard, and I can’t wait to see where her path will take her!