We at Keys Weekly want to honor the men and women serving in our local military installations. With help and advice from our community members in the armed forces, we’re proud to present our Military Spotlight.

LT. JG ERIN WOODS
U.S. COAST GUARD

Why did you join the military? The Coast Guard  truly cares about its members. I can serve my country while meeting my professional and academic goals. I followed in my older brother’s footsteps, enlisting in the Coast Guard, followed shortly thereafter by our two younger brothers. 

How many years have you been in the  military? 14 years (12 enlisted, 2 as an officer)

Had you ever been to Florida Keys or Key West before your current assignment? I visited Key West in 2005, prior to leaving for boot camp, while my older brother was stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Nantucket. I remember riding mopeds around the island, snorkeling at Smathers and Higgs Beach, and trying to barehand catch a spiny lobster (not the best method). 

Did you choose Key West or were you assigned here? Key West Enforcement Division was my No. 1 pick out of Officer Candidate School.

What were your first thoughts upon hearing you were coming to the Keys? I was excited to be leaving the endless snow at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. I grew up in Alabama, and spent my 12 years of enlisted time in warm weather units, so the tropical climate was right up my alley.  

What do you like most about your assignment? We often miss the people more than the unit when it comes time to transfer because we are such a tight knit family. I am fortunate to work with so many extraordinary Coast Guardsmen and women, other government and local industry partners. I am entrusted with multiple responsibilities that lead to job satisfaction. The work-life balance allows me to put my primary focus on what means the most to me, my family. 

What would you change about living here in Key West if you had the power to do so? It would be nice if the sargassum stayed offshore in weed lines for better fishing, as opposed to piling up into smelly mounds on the beaches. 

Any advice to give other military seeking assignment here?  If your finances allow, get a boat! Whether you are an avid angler, or prefer to lounge on the sandbar, a boat will make the Keys a station vacation.

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