What are useful civilian and semi-military organizations for prepper?

Having recently gotten my ham radio license, mostly for prepping purposes, and not being that keen on joining my local ham radio club, I’ve been thinking about what other organizations I might plug into to be more prepared for emergencies. There are of course volunteer emergency response groups on the city level.  Around here that’s called CORE and they’re trained by the fire department. I personally have stayed away from them because it seems like a large time commitment and (the real reason) because I suffer from serious blood-and-guts squeamishness and don’t want to hear about emergency surgery preformed with a knife and an empty potato chip bag.

But I was also wondering about the lesser known organizations. I admit to having an unfulfilled dream of joining a military reserve and also of becoming a sailor, so I know a little about the semi-military organizations that are out there but not very visible. I’m not talking about guys in camo running around the woods with rifles, preparing for a race war. I’m talking about government-sponsored organizations. There is the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, which is a volunteer, civilian arm of the Coast Guard. They have their own missions of boating safety but also can substantially support the Coast Guard in their missions and have access to a lot of Coast Guard training.

The Air Force has a somewhat similar (but differently organized) service called the Air Civil Patrol. Some states have a military reserve, which is a state-only military force that steps in to supplement the National Guard or, potentially, to replace the National Guard if the NG is federalized and sent overseas. The state military reserve can’t be called up to serve out of state. They serve mostly as volunteers though they can be called up to active duty and get paid as soldiers do for a limited amount of time. None of these services carry weapons (although I’m not 100% sure about the state military reserve).

All these services seem like they have access to a lot of training and can be part of emergency response networks. I’m intrigued by the idea of getting involved in one of them if there is actually a practical prepping benefit to them and if I wouldn’t just be playing soldier/sailor, and also if it doesn’t involve being exposed to a lot of right-wing hate speech. Also though, I’m interested in learning about other organizations that exist largely under the radar but would be useful for preppers. The caveat is that I’m a pretty busy person already, so am not looking for another hobby or group that would be a giant time commitment. What has your experience been?


  • Comments (7)

    • 3

      Good morning Jonnie,

      My experiences with several of the mentioned group categories involve:

      –  “giant time commitment” and substantial “hate speech” – various parts of the political spectrum – plus talks on every solution to problems that the speaker has little to no knowledge about. 

      Once an active member in one of the organizations, there are many training opportunites. There’s enough to fill one’s calendar.  If comfortable with web courses, there are many opportunities.

      I’m active in a couple of programs and even with Hades breaking out re the pandemic, yesterday had received my first alert in re preparation for hurricane season.

      Here, the USCGA is highly developed.  I’m sure California is the same.  USCGA, besides the boat programs, has an air program and a radio program of some sort.  It’s worth contacting local/area elements of them to see what develop.

      I’ll close by mentioning that some years ago, had an indirect involvement with one of the USAF’s programs named “CRAF” – Civil Reserve Air Fleet. 

      You’re right; much is not well known.

    • 4

      Some ham radio groups you could look into are your local ARES or RACES groups. They get together maybe once a week/month and talk about preparedness, search and rescue, emergencies, ham radio skills, and more. 

      There are also local search and rescue teams you can join where you can learn skills that can save your life or that of others and put those into action at times. 

      My area has a weekly preparedness ham radio net every week that is pretty much like what we do here on the forum. Someone mentions a topic and then everyone makes a comment and spews out whatever they know about it. Pretty fun.

      As for non-ham related groups to participate in, I would maybe call up your local college’s ROTC section and ask if they are aware of any groups or organizations you could join in for someone who is (insert age and location here). 

      I’ve always been drawn to that kind of semi-military organizations and thought it would be fun and educational to join one. And your attitude is going to mean what you get out of it. If you take it seriously and look for lessons through it, I know it can be beneficial to your overall preparedness. Just going out to get groceries can turn into a prepping lesson if you look for it. 

      Many police departments have citizen academies that are free but usually behind a waiting list (not sure during these pandemic times). They are super fun and teach you a lot about your local police organizations and you can learn quite a bit to apply to other aspects of your life. 

      The last one i’ll mention is your local CERT class. While not military, you will learn many great prepping skills and ways to save others. 

      Let us know if you find any good ones!

    • 6

      Not sure if you are into guns or not but there are many fun shooting courses to check out if you are.

      The fun ones are where they take you outside and have some old junk cars you can practice with. You pretend to be in your car when a threat approaches and you need to draw your weapon and defend yourself. Puts you into some real world scenarios that just can’t be experienced if you are just shooting indoors at paper targets. 

    • 3


      Good morning,

      The above link tells of a course, both classroom and practical exercise, of USCGA training.

      Hope this link “fleshes out” the practicality of an auxillary military organization and prepper needs.

      I took a helicopter evacuation course … I took only the classroom portion. There is no way I can survive a crash at sea – the North Sea – at night.

      Above link shows the 2 USCGA members getting into a life raft.  Do take note that neither appear injured.  Please factor injuries into your personal training and overall preparedness. Injuries can heal or, at least, learned to live with. Flat EKGs and no vital signs are to be avoided. 

      It’s surely a good idea to help a volunteer military auxillary or a Federal volunteer program … Medical Reserve Corps, CERT, the SAR teams, others, … and learn much for personal preparedness.

      • 4

        Thanks, Bob. Looks like a CAP course, though, not CG Auxiliary.

      • 5

        Appreciate correction, Jonnie.

        Thank you.