Many new members get lost in all the terms and processes associated with running the day-to-day functions of the Auxiliary. Many new members simply ask "what can I do to help or get started right away?" You should know, it's perfectly normal to feel a bit lost in the beginning. The key thing is to go to your flotilla meetings and become familiar with what the Auxiliary has to offer you and what the best fit will be for your time as a volunteer. Many new members come into the Auxiliary with skills which they want to apply; while other new members come into the Auxiliary wanting to learn more and develop skills which they can use to promote the Auxiliary's mission.
Whatever your objectives, your first year with the Auxiliary should be about learning. Understand our processes, our language, our missions. Train, train, train in the area you want to participate in. If your flotilla is strong in an area (like operations), take advantage of that strong program, learn as much as you can, and become an active member. If your flotilla has areas to develop, jump in and learn everything you can to build a new program which supports the Coast Guard mission. Talk to your Flotilla Commander, Vice Flotilla Commander, Member Training Officer, and/or your Human Resources Officers about ideas to get you started. They should be your primary contacts as you onboard into the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Regarding references, the best place to start is to begin reading the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Manual. This manual is the "go to" reference for all Auxiliary actions.
When you start your initial interaction with the USCG Auxiliary , the first document you are given to read by the Flotilla Staff Officer Human Resources (FSO-HR) is the New Member Handbook. All new prospective members should get a copy of this document.
Our District has several new member training opportunities. We have a New Member Bootcamp which runs annually and many Divisions & Flotillas run New Member Workshops (which are abbreviated versions of the New Member Bootcamps). Check with your FSO-MT to find out when either of these classes are being offered and get enrolled in those classes. New members will find it helpful to view the New Member Orientation Workshop presentation.
National has produced a member training qualification guide, which is becoming a bit dated (some of the links are broken), but the material is still very good and current. Regarding qualifications, this is a good document to read.
Read up on the Auxiliary websites – National and District websites. Read about the Auxiliary in other regions/districts. Read the other sections on our Member Training site to learn more. Build mentoring relationships with other members in your Flotilla as well as other Flotillas. Most times, all you have to do is ask. Fellowship is a cornerstone of the Auxiliary, build on that fellowship.
As you become more familiar with the Auxiliary, you will find there are a LOT of paths for training and development. It's up to you to figure out which path is interesting and relevant to your skills. Once you become comfortable with the materials in this section (e.g. New Members), you can start to delve into learning about leadership training, AUXOP, and other specialty tracks which the USCG Auxiliary has to offer.