By J.K. Cassady III, Retired Chief, REC Baltimore
When you can no longer support your employer’s policies and its conduct towards some of its customers [mariners], it’s time to retire and move on. That is what I have done after 20 years as the chief of the U.S. Coast Guard Baltimore Regional Exam Center (REC).
Since the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center (NMC) in West Virginia became operational (in 2007), too often mariners have found that the decisions made by those at the NMC has hurt their careers and livelihoods. The RECs in the NMC’s original vision statement were to be advocates for the mariner, which I attempted to do many times when I found that they were being harmed by the incorrect decisions being made by the contractual/new GS evaluators at NMC. I questioned and complained so many times about bad evaluations that I was directed by my supervisors to only concern myself with making sure all the “i’s and t’s” were dotted and crossed on the applications and not to contact the NMC evaluators because I was upsetting them.
I was told not to assist the mariner but to refer them to the NMC hot line if they had questions about their applications. This is not in my DNA so I told the mariner how to get corrective action if possible by asking for reconsideration. If they were not successful there, then I told them to appeal to Coast Guard headquarters, taking the final decision away from the NMC.
A little secret that the NMC doesn’t want mariners to know about appeals is that in the past, 67 percent of the appeals made to Coast Guard headquarters have come back in favor of the mariner and against the decision made by NMC.
One other thing: Mariners, make sure you make copies of every document you submit because some evaluators have a way of conveniently saying they never received them with your application.