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.

JOEL WASHBOND
BOATSWAIN’S MATE/U.S. COAST GUARD CUTTER RAYMOND EVANS

Hometown and Coast Guard: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I saw a lot of the Coast Guard, from large cutters going in and out of port in Puget Sound to Cape Disappointment, which is one of the most treacherous river bar entrances.  I vividly remember seeing Coast Guard boats start ferry escorts after 9/11 and was intrigued by the variety of missions I saw the Coast Guard doing.  

Why did you join the military? I joined the Coast Guard to make a positive impact within the service and to protect those in need. A lot of my high school friends actually joined the Coast Guard right after school while I went to college. When I decided to join, the Coast Guard didn’t need more recruits. I drove an hour and a half countless times to meet with a recruiter to request assignment.  I got my shot in January 2010.  

How many years in the military? 10

Prior to Key West what was your most memorable assignment? The extreme opposite of Key West: ice rescue out of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. I never knew about this job beforehand, but there are ice rescue assignments on the lakes where you don’t use boats, tethering as a team and doing search patterns on foot.  

Had you ever been to Florida Keys before your current assignment? Yes. I was invited on a trip to Ramrod Key with friends and loved it. Visiting this area definitely left a big impression on me and I jumped at the chance to come back. 

Did you choose Key West or were you assigned here? Key West was high on my list.  We have family who live north of Fort Lauderdale so being here we’re fairly close to family.  I came to this job in Key West for a few reasons. I had been at search and rescue stations, I wanted to go to a Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter and do the type of missions we do down here. 

What were your first thoughts upon  hearing you were coming to the Keys? I need to get a boat! Everything I had seen and heard was how getting out on the water is a big part of seeing and experiencing everything the Keys have to offer.

Hobbies/favorite things to do? My hobbies include boating, grilling various foods, exercising, and chilling at the local sandbars with my family. There’s so much more of the Keys to see by boat. I enjoyed helping with my daughter’s youth softball team of girls  6 to 8 years old. 

What do you like most about the Keys? I like the laid-back attitudes, chill vibes and access to outdoor activities, and I love how much my family loves it here. 

What do you like most about your assignment? I like that my assignment allows me to interact with local boaters and anglers, educate them, and be a positive influence on the community.  The Keys are so full of tourists and vacationers, I have the opportunity to be someone’s first impression on the Coast Guard every day. As exciting  as it is to do law enforcement such as counterdrug and migrant interdiction, the most important thing we do is ensure people are on the water legally and safely.   

What would you change about living here in Key West if you had the power to do so? I would add a disk golf course and a Cracker Barrel.

Any advice to give other military seeking assignment here? Be ready for everything and anything and make the most out of your time here. You’ll work hard as the mission set here is fast paced, but is very rewarding. When off duty, explore the area and talk to people who live here; they can point you to stuff away from just tourist sites. If you want to get the most out of living in Key West, you have to get a boat, or make really good friends with someone who has one. Locals are very friendly to service members and are willing to point out good local restaurants, activities, and areas to go see. Get out and explore and invest your time to get the most out of it. 

Join Our Blast – Keys News Right to Your INBOX