In spite of what many think, the Coast Guard is the 5th branch of the military. I have the DD-214 to prove it.
I actually intended to go Marines, but at the time it was during the 'cold war' (1982/83) and my Dad was terrified that I was going to be Soviet cannon fodder. He appealed to my young intellect by convincing me that since we weren't at war, the Coast Guard was the only branch that did anything besides train.
Honestly, I didn't go with any patriotic intention of serving my country. I was just burnt out on school and wanted to do something that would at least look good on a resume. It worked, as after 5 years of being reminded of how worthless I was because I was not an officer, I was obsessed with getting a good degree. A life-changing experience for sure.