USCG's First English Language TP Recruit Grads
by U.S. Coast Guard Author
January 1, 2023
On August 16, 2022, five new recruits
got off the bus at Training Center Cape May, New Jersey to begin
a pilot recruit training program for the Coast Guard ... the
English Language Training Program or ELTP.
U.S. Coast Guard
ELTP recruits begin instruction at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center (DLIELC) as part of the Army's Echo Company at Joint Base San Antonio on Lackland Air Force Base, Texas on September 1, 2022. The recruits will return to Training Center Cape May upon completion of the 10-24 week DLIELC program and progress through the follow-on weeks of the normal recruit training process. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Katie Shveda.)
Since as early as 2019, at the Council
on Recruit Basic Training (CORBT), the Coast Guard brought up
the struggles that recruits that spoke English as a Second
Language (ESL) were having stemming from English comprehension.
Historically, recruits were not tested using the English
Comprehension Language (ECL) exam at the Military Entrance
Processing Station (MEPS) prior to shipping out to Cape May.
Some recruits were tested at Cape May by the Educational
Services Officer after being identified as failing to meet
academic or recruit standards by the company commander staff.
In 2020, two more factors shaped the landscape for
starting the program – a shortfall in recruitment and the
emphasis on diversity initiatives. The Coast Guard Force
Readiness Command (FORCECOM) identified the need to address
attrition in recruit training to be able to send qualified
people to operational units feeling the personnel shortfall.
Being such a small service with approximately 55,000
personnel, every person matters for the Coast Guard to operate a
multi-mission, interoperable fleet of 243 cutters, 201 fixed and
rotary-wing aircraft, and over 1,600 boats. Each position that
isn’t filled has an exponential, negative impact on our
effectiveness not to mention increased stress and workload for
those left to fill in the gaps.
The service recognized
the value of a diverse workforce, and the asset multilingual
recruits could be in an era where fewer people are desiring to
serve in the military – as little as 9% according to a recent
2021 DoD survey of young adults who said they would consider
Besides just taking their place and
achieving success at a new duty station, many service members
have gone on to become interpreters for some of the Coast
Guard’s more sensitive missions around the globe. Removing
barriers allowed the Coast Guard to bolster its effectiveness
and ability to project influence and build partnerships with
both local and international audiences.
stated goals were that every single person can pursue and
achieve personal growth and professional success in a culture
that not only attracts the best of America’s diverse population,
but encourages America’s best to stay. The ELTP offers
opportunities for recruits with a variety of language
backgrounds, not only Spanish - the predominant minority
language the Coast Guard sees apply.
In support of the
Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Linda Fagan’s guiding
principle of Transforming our Total Workforce, through the
collaboration between FORCECOM, CGRC, and Training Center Cape
May, the service continues to examine ways to bridge those
hurdles that would stop someone from being successful in the
This year the Coast Guard received funding
to establish a memorandum of agreement with the Defense Language
Institute English Language Center (DLIELC) and the Army’s Echo
Company, a unit that provides a learning environment to Initial
Entry Soldiers for English Language Training and prepares them
for the mental and physical demands of Basic Combat Training in
support of Army operational requirements, to implement the ELTP
After an initial onboarding at Training Center
Cape May during which recruits are issued uniforms, medically
screened, and officially hired, they travel to Joint Base San
Antonio – Lackland to join the Army’s Echo Company. While part
of Echo, recruits participate in physical fitness, military
orientation, daily inspections, formation movements, team
building and other activities to learn and conform to military
standards before they begin the ELTP.
The ELTP at the
Defense Language Institute will require a minimum of 10 weeks to
receive an accredited diploma but can also require up to 24
weeks to earn a qualifying ECL score if needed. Upon completion
of the ELTP, recruits then come back to Cape May to finish the
last 5 weeks of traditional Coast Guard recruit basic training
before reporting to their first unit after graduation.
want students to leave with a sense of confidence, pride, and
excitement for the future. We are laying the foundations for
what they will experience in recruit training and at their first
duty station,” said Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Scudder,
Coast Guard company commander and instructor at DLIELC.
On December 22, 2022, the first two ELTP recruits
graduated with recruit company C-203, successfully completing
the Coast Guard’s basic training program.
U.S. Coast Guard Seaman Pedro Perez Torres
(left) and Seaman Madelin Germonsen Santos (right) graduate basic training with recruit company Charlie-203 at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New
Jersey on December 22, 2022. Torres and Santos are graduates of the Coast Guard’s new English Language Training Program
(ELTP), which assists recruits who could struggle in basic training due to language barriers by sending them to a military language school to become proficient in English prior to beginning their training in Cape May. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Kearney.)
“I commend each
Coast Guard recruit who will participate in the ELTP for not
only their courage, but also for their dedication of wanting to
make a difference in the Coast Guard,” said Capt. Warren Judge,
commanding officer of Training Center Cape May. “Together we are
Seaman Madelin Germonsen Santos, one of the
recent graduates, said that she really appreciated the Coast
Guard’s new program as it helped her to complete the full
recruit training requirements and become a full member of the
active-duty workforce. She also highly recommends the program to
those who are on the fence about joining the service.
“The DLIELC program taught me things that I never learned in
elementary school,” Germonsen said. “Conversational exercises
and reading books helped me learn a lot,” she added.
Additionally, she is inspired to become an instructor herself
hoping to help those who would follow in her footsteps and maybe
even become a company commander in the future.
to the Commandant of the Coast Guard’s Ready Workforce 2030
Vision, diversity and inclusion are no longer an afterthought in
organizational culture; employers must actively demonstrate how
they are ingrained not only into their mission sets but also
their recruiting strategies. It is expected that employers
accommodate different styles of thinking and create work
environments that enable and empower all types of workers to
Coast Guard Gifts
| U.S. Coast Guard
| U.S. Department
of Homeland Security