Meet the Kerleys

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam and Stephanie Kerley, yeomen at Training Center Cape May, N.J., pose for a photo. Yeomen provide customer service to personnel ranging from pay and benefits to travel and transportation. (Photo provided by the Kerley family)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam and Stephanie Kerley, yeomen at Training Center Cape May, N.J. (Photo provided by the Kerley family)

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class David Micallef

Pay and personnel record keeping. Travel and transportation entitlements. Awards. Workforce administration. While much of the attention on the Coast Guard is often focused on rescue operations, a group of trained administrative professionals work behind the scenes to ensure the service keeps functioning. Those administrative tasks fall on Coast Guard yeomen.

Two such yeomen are Adam and Stephanie Kerley, who have a lot in common. They’re both active-duty Coast Guard members, they’re both third class petty officers, and they are both stationed at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey. The commonalities don’t stop there: They also share a last name and have two children.

Adam and Stephanie have created a healthy work-life balance by supporting each other at home and at work.

Adam and Stephanie first met in 2009 at Yeoman “A” School in Petaluma, California.

“My first day we were in our indoctrination class and I turned around and bam!” said Adam. “Yes, the world shook – and there was my future wife. I knew it from the minute we saw each other. The next two months were full of excitement and wonder as we got to know each other.”

Like Adam, Stephanie was traveling across the country to learn a craft and was not expecting to meet anyone. She arrived in Petaluma with one goal: to graduate. Stephanie’s goal became two goals when she met Adam and realized she wanted to spend her life with him.

“The instructor told us to introduce ourselves,” said Stephanie. “When [Adam] turned around he had these big blue eyes and I just had to know who he was. We connected and fell in love at first sight.”

After Yeoman “A” School, Adam and Stephanie hoped to be stationed close to one another. With a little luck and some help from the Coast Guard, their hopes came to fruition.

Adam was stationed in Virginia Beach, Va., and although the couple could have been stationed a world apart, Stephanie was stationed just three hours away in Arlington, Va. They got married and had their first child, Adam Jr., while stationed in Virginia.

After completing their tours in Virginia, Adam and Stephanie each received orders to Training Center Cape May, where they work in the same building.

Stephanie works at the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System office as a verifying official. Her main duty is customer service, and she spends a lot of time creating identification cards for recruits in week six of enlisted basic training.

“I think with my experience of being a mom, being in the Coast Guard for nine years and being away from my family helps me relate to them,” said Stephanie. “If we can help one of them not be so emotional, or not freak out about reporting to their first unit, then we are doing something right. Some of these kids are 17 or 18 years old and this is their first time leaving home. I can definitely relate to them.”

When they come in to get their identification cards they actually have time to think about being away from their families. They have a few minutes away from their company commander and their training schedule.

“I’ve seen [recruits] come through here and be very emotional,” said Stephanie. “You have to help them and show them some compassion.”

Stephanie also assists retired and disabled veterans, and she said it’s her favorite aspect of being a yeoman. Listening to their stories is special to her because she likes meeting people and interacting with them face to face.

While Stephanie assists recruits and retirees, Adam assists incoming residents and their families upon reporting to Cape May. Adam practices similar parental skills while at work, compassion being at the top of his list.

“If one didn’t have some sort of patience, coupled with compassion, it would make for a very unpleasant contact for everyone I serve,” said Adam.

Adam said he believes fatherhood carries over into his Coast Guard career in multiple ways. Being a father builds his patience for many situations when helping people in stressful situations and helps him empathize with the families.

The couple recently welcomed their newest addition to the family, Ariana.

“Being away from work for six months due to health issues and pregnancy was hard,” said Stephanie. “Being here is really helpful to us. My husband is here so we can walk over to the Child Development Center on base anytime to see our kids. They have an open door policy and they are great.”

Adam said no matter what a person does for a living, there is going to be good and bad that comes with every situation. Everyone deals with the unknown and life is anything but certain.

“Anyone in the Coast Guard can be called upon at anytime to deploy and serve their country,” said Adam.

Adam is called upon to coach people through their reporting process at work, but it doesn’t end when he leaves the office. He also coaches his son’s tee-ball baseball team, and Stephanie is excited for this new experience.

“I’m going to make a T-shirt and create a sign for his games,” said Stephanie. “I’m going to be that mom. My daughter and I will be the cheerleaders.”

When asked about their marriage, their family and their Coast Guard careers, it is evident they have developed a deep appreciation and excitement for all of the above.

“We will continue to stay close and be each other’s best friends and enjoy our journey,” said Adam. “We enjoy being a part of this organization and it has been such a blessing to us.”

Adam and Stephanie said they don’t know what the future has in store, but they will continue to serve and do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and in doing so, hope to show they hold true to the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.

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