Lisa H. Tarrants

Spouse of Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Tarrants

Chief of Security of the Port

Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads

Coast Guard spouse Lisa H. Tarrants may not have been there for her husband, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Tarrants, during his deployment days on cutters, but her support over the past nearly 10 years has earned her much gratitude.

“Lisa has been my rock during my career,” her husband wrote on the nomination form. “I am retiring this June with more than 26 years of service, and her support has been unwavering, not only to me, but our service members and our country… Her compassion and caring attitude has impacted many military families. She has helped clean house for a mother of three, assisted in packing for a PCS self-move and provided a shoulder for others to lean on during deployments.”

The couple will be married 10 years this October, and the family (sons Chad, 18, Dillon, 14, and a black lab-mix Precious Jessy) reside in Camden, N.C.

“She’s the little girl we all spoil,” Lisa said.

When the Ohio River had one of its greatest flood seasons a few years ago, Lisa was working as a television reporter, covering the story where her husband was also working.

“We both worked some long days, with me covering it and him working it,” Lisa recalled. “But you also need to remember you are husband and wife. You can’t forget that or let it slide. He still treats me like we’re still dating.”

Lisa’s television career took a side trip when the Coast Guard assigned her husband to Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads.

“I was in Florida with a TV job and had moved ahead of him,” she explained. “He had put Florida as his first choice, but he got his second choice, this area, instead.”

Yet, she has no complaints about giving up her career as a television reporter.

“The Coast Guard has been so good to us,” she said. “There’s been nothing that was a big shock or disappointment.”

A friend of hers introduced Lisa to the silk-screen printing business, and she loved the art and hands-on work. She started her own business, the Shirt Shack. She continues to freelance as a reporter.

“She always ensures discounts and artwork for military units,” her husband noted. “In addition, she has provided clothing items to families who have lost their homes due to fire. She visits local retailers to gain support for her effort and ensures the shipments are sent in time for the upcoming holiday.”

Service members who go into a hospital to be treated for wounds may end up wearing one of her shirts.

Lisa shrugs off the notion she is doing anything particularly special with her generosity.

“I sent a case of T-shirts from my company,” she said. “It wasn’t that big a deal, but it sure meant a lot to them.”

The silk-screening company has allowed Lisa the flexibility in her schedule to be there for her sons whenever necessary.

“It’s very neat to be here when my sons came home,” she said. “This has worked out well. It’s been a huge blessing.”

The key issue for all military families is communication, when to have it, and when to wait.

“You need an understanding with your spouse, and it doesn’t matter if they go on short or long-term duties – when they come home they need a little time to transition,” Lisa said. “Give your spouse that time before hitting them with the daily needs and questions.”