Visually Impaired Couple Proud to Serve Coast Guard Auxiliary

Visually Impaired Couple Proud to Serve Coast Guard Auxiliary

Posted on Aug.19, 2009, by , under Inspirational Stories


He can’t see very well. She can’t see at all.  Not exactly recruiting poster material, this couple. Nevertheless, Jenine and Kent Stanley of Minerva Park are members in good standing of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. They’re proud to be of service to their country.

“I think being part of the U.S. military, it’s an honor,” said Kent Stanley, who was elected to the Minerva Park Village Council in November 2007.

“That means a lot to me,” said his wife, the consumer relations coordinator for the 63-year-old Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind Inc., based in Long Island, N.Y.

“It’s a chance to do something for ourselves and our country,” Kent Stanley said.

Staying too serious for too long, however, isn’t exactly Kent Stanley’s way. “Maybe I could get lighthouse duty,” he suggested last week, even though Boston Light, built in 1716 as the first American lighthouse, today stands as the only manned lighthouse in the country.

Even that doesn’t daunt the councilman. “We’ll build a lighthouse down here at the end of Minerva Lake,” he said.

“I don’t expect to be doing inspections or search and rescue,” Jenine Stanley said.

Kent Stanley was a licensed pilot until a head injury 25 years ago damaged both the visual and audio parts of his brain. So maybe, Jenine Stanley said, her husband can teach regular Coast Guard personnel in flight ground school.

“Which would be something somebody wouldn’t expect,” she said.

“You quip about this, but it’s interesting to be part of a team,” Kent Stanley said. “We try to mainstream as much as we can.”

The Stanleys, who each have a guide dog, are not the first visually impaired people to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which was authorized by an act of Congress on June 23, 1939 as the “reserve” — the law was amended to include an auxiliary on Feb. 19, 1941 — to serve as “civilian volunteers to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation’s navigable waters,” according to the Web site of the organization.

“We’ll be guide dogs two and three in the Coast Guard Auxiliary,” Kent Stanley said.

It was a friend Jenine Stanley met through her Guide Dog contacts, San Antonio resident Robert Dittman, who joined the auxiliary seven years ago, in spite of having been born blind….

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