Dear Members of the Board
We were established in 2011, as a Scholarship foundation, The Little Family Foundation, in order to raise money for my Shipmates, I had personally lost to Suicide after my units got home from Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2015, after losing my 15th Shipmate to Suicide, and helping to write several pieces of Suicide related legislation and NDAA amendments, my wife and I decided to change the name to Sea Service Family, Foundation (SSFF), and recruit a Board of Directors to help assists us, we are so proud each of you have agreed to join us on this journey as we work to advocate support our Shipmates in the Sea Services.
For months SSFF has been watching the situation of a possible shutdown unfold, and prepared to act as quickly as possible, should something happen. Then on December 22, after attending an event with my Wife’s command, I realized we couldn’t wait, and needed to find a way to allow families, to not spend their Christmas worrying about their next paycheck. We quickly called our board to get permission to start a campaign that would allow the spouses and members of the Coast Guard, feel like they were able to have a bi-partisan voice in this space, and take action, instead of just sitting back and waiting for the inevitable to happen.
I was working at AUSN when the first Pay Our Coast Guard Act was introduced by Senator Thune, and had a ton of old writings about it. The first thing we did was send his staff a letter from the Board asking him to reintroduce the legislation, and add a section to include retirees. We then sent a similar letter to every member of the Congressional Coast Guard Caucus, asking that they either encourage Senator Thune to introduce the bill, or take ownership of the legislation and introduce it themselves.
We were happy to hear from Senator Thune's staff, that he was going to introduce the legislation, and wanted to know if anything could have been changed. We just asked that he add a section for retirees, and immediately send him a letter of support for the legislation.
The next major call we received was from Congressman Peter Defazio personally asking for our guidance. We advised him to add the retirees and they went about making the legislation passable in the House. While we supported the other two pieces of legislation that were introduced in the House; we did not push their bills because we knew the Chairman had the only bill that would advance.
After getting legislation introduced, we pushed very hard for our Members and Supporters to send letters to Congress, and to date they have sent well over 500,000, this number includes (1 person x 3 Letters a piece x 4 separate campaigns = total) or on average (1 person sent 12 letters) since Dec 22, we predict about 43,500+ total Individuals participants, we will be able to confirm these numbers after we shutdown the campaigns in our software.
Due to the numbers of Congressional Offices reaching out to us about these efforts, we knew we needed more help, and reached out to every major MSO and VSO in the nation, quickly we built a partnership with CPOA, CGEA, CWOA and FRA, and having joined the National Military Veterans Alliance (NMVA) in November 2018, we quickly added all 21 of their organizations to our joint letter, and by Jan 9th we had 38 organizations representing over 7.5 million members on our joint letters. Simultaneously, I was working with MCPOCG (ret) Vince Patton, who helped me get every living MCPOCG to sign an additional joint letter to Congress joining in on our efforts.
After speaking with the White House, and getting mixed signals on rather or not the President would sign the legislation, we got a tip from a Senate office to start tweeting the President. After launching our twitter campaign we were able to get our members and supporters to send over 22,000 tweets in the last 3 weeks.
Last weekend, I got a call from MCPOCG(ret) Skip Bowen, asking if we could get behind efforts that would move the CG into the US Navy, I was hesitant at first, because I had shared a United States Naval Institute (USNI) article the week before about this same topic, and thought people would come to Cape May to find me. The one thing about Master Chief Bowen is when him and Master Chief Patton want your support, they will get it. They convinced me it would be ok; and they’d take the lead and help me squash any of the rumors and naysayers, which they did almost nightly, and together we helped gain over 10,000 signatures to the petition to the White House.
We then took our efforts directly to Capitol Hill, mustering about 30 members of CPOA and local spouses, where we Stormed the Hill, delivering our joint letters to all 540 Congressional offices. While the volunteers were going door to door, the National President of CPOA Jon Ostrowski and Retired MCPOCG Reserves Mark Allen and I went to very key offices, that we knew we’d have trouble with in the likelihood of a vote for our legislation, trying to bring the members to our side. As we wrapped up the day to join our Participants at our closing reception, we were given an impromptu meeting with the Chief of Staff to Nancy Pelosi. The meeting went about how we expected but we didn’t want to lose momentum so we just kept moving on.
Our last tactic before the President opened the Government on Friday was a call campaign, and I can’t tell you how many calls were made to the 4 leaders of each Chamber, but I can tell you it was enough that three of these offices called to ask me to stop having our members call them, a request we not only ignored, but quite frankly something I was proud to receive, knowing it was because of the passionate supporters of the Coast Guard, causing this anger.
Every day, SSFF stood by our members, and hosted our podcast live on Facebook so we could take their questions immediately. We did everything we could to give them the best, most recent and updated Gouge each day, which is exactly what our foundations publication, The Daily Gouge is aimed at doing. I would go live for about an hour a day, and just talk to them, listen, answer their questions, be a sounding board, and try and make sense of the things they just didn't know. We would put out rumors as quick as they started, and spend a few days talking about more intense situations and get a in depth as the viewers want us to.
We stood up a call line and email, my interns fielded 1,238 calls, text and emails, directing those who contacted us to the resources they needed.
We didn’t want anyone to think we were out to make money off this situation, and I decided to quickly divert all donations to Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, because I knew they would send the money directly to Coasties in need, wish a proven mechanism to ensure the money was going to those in the most needed situations. With that being said I launched our first quarter fundraiser this morning, because we do have an obligation to our programs we run. We will be using Bonfire, to sell a design they will put on a t-shirt and hooded sweatshirt for us. We will be running this fundraiser for the next 3 months, shipping out the supplies directly from bonfire every 21 days.
On, 28 January we will launch our directives to our members, to help change the talking points as to why we need parity between all 5 branches, and must pass HR 367 or S 21 in order to ensure we are protected form a Shutdown beyond these 21 days.
On 31 January, I will be present at scheduled hearing on Capitol Hill, as the Commandant and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard present themselves to answer questions from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Originally we were asked to testify, but they did away with the second panel, and it is unknown if they will allow us to submit testimony for the record at this time.
On 2 February, I will be at the Military Order of the Carabao Annual Wallow, where we launched our start last year. We will be hosting our corporate partner Dr. Emil Pitkin, owner of GovPredict to this event, and sitting with a donor to SSFF "ShoeBob" Carey. We hope the event is as successful for us this year as it was last year.
Also this month, we sent letters of support for both pieces of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, HR 203, which was introduced by House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) Ranking Member, Dr. Phil Roe, and HR 299, which was introduced by HVAC Mark Takano, which is the legislation we will put all our support behind, since it is the most realistic to gain traction. We have followed up with these letters by sending emails to every staffer from last Congress to resign onto the legislation, and an introduction to each new office, or those who didn't sign on, asking they considering co sponsoring the legislation.
I will make these reports to you monthly, and post them here in our Blog section to allow our members to also see what we are doing. All communication that is for the board only, will be posted on this site, in a secure location that is only accessible by someone with the permission to view it.
I stand by take your questions should you have any.
It is my honor to serve as your Board Chairman!
Michael Joseph Little
Executive Director / Chairman of the Board
The Daily Gouge is the official Publication of Sea Service Family, Foundation. Its content is provided by different authors that are cited in each publication.