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What the Government Shutdown Means for Military Families

*UPDATED Sunday, 1/21, 6:00am CT *

Like every government shutdown in the past, the biggest question for military families is, “How does this impact me?” So, we’ve done the research and compiled as many relevant answers as we can find.

As more information is released, this post will continue to be updated. We are doing our best to find accurate answers; however, every duty station is going to be different, so it is best to contact your local leadership.

Military Pay

Active Duty

  • According to Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, “While our uniformed Airmen aren’t subject to furlough, we will not receive pay for work performed after today (Jan 19) until an appropriation or CR is passed. We know this will create financial hardships for many Airmen and families.”  
  • According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, “Active military, Reserve and National Guard members will be paid on time for pay entitlements earned Jan. 19 or earlier. Military members cannot be paid for duty performed after the expiration of the Continuing Resolution Authority on Jan. 19. Once a CRA or another appropriations act is signed into law, normal disbursement of military pay will resume.”
  • Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA will deposit paychecks at a 0% loan in the event of a shutdown without pay. However, some may not be eligible, like select overseas locations. Check with your bank to confirm and register. If you bank with another institution, it may have similar procedures in place for active duty military. 
  • Regardless of pay, active duty military are still considered essential and will be expected to report for duty. If this changes, your command will disseminate that information directly to you. 

Reserves

  • National Guard and Reserve Pay is affected in the same way as active duty. 

Retired

  • Pension checks are sourced from a different money pool and will be unaffected. 
  • VA Disability and GI Bill payments will also remain unaffected. 

DOD

  • Only essential personnel will continue to work during a government shutdown. The rest will be given four hours on Monday to put emergency shut-down procedures in place and remain home without pay. In previous shutdowns, pay was retroactive once the government reached an agreement and reopened. 

Death Gratuities

  • Whereas Servicemembers Group Life Insurance payments will be unaffected, newly bereaved family members will not receive military-funded travel to Dover Air Force Base (or elsewhere) for the dignified transfer, funeral, or memorial service of their loved ones. There also will be a delay in receiving the Pentagon’s death gratuity until the government reopens. 
  • Survivor Benefit Plan payments will be unaffected. 

Base Services

Commissaries and Shops

  • All exchanges and shops should remain open because they are funded differently. 
  • Stateside commissaries should be closed for the duration of the shutdown. However, OCONUS (overseas) commissaries and some stateside commissaries in remote locations will remain open, because they are considered essential. During the last shutdown, commissaries were open for one day following the shutdown to allow for cold and frozen foods to be sold, and lines wrapped around the parking lot in some cases. If this is happening at your commissary, it will probably be busy! 

On-Base Housing

  • Housing and utilities are considered essential. However, some non-essential staff in those offices may be furloughed affecting some non-essential activities. But some on-base housing is privatized and wouldn’t experience the same potential delays and/or cancellations. 
  • Those scheduled to move in to or out of base housing during a PCS may be impacted due to moving delays. Contact your housing office for specific details.

On-Base Child Care

  • Child care centers will remain open where it is deemed necessary for essential support staff. Contact your local Child Development Center for specific information for you. 

On-Base Schools

  • DoDEA schools on base will be open and classes will be uninterrupted. However, most sports and extracurricular activities will be canceled. Some base schools are run by the local school district and would not be impacted. If your child would be affected by any extra-curricular cancellations, you should be contacted. 

MWR

  • Because of how these programs are funded, some events or services may be canceled on a case-by-case basis. Contact your local office to see how your Morale, Welfare, and Recreation department will be affected. 

Healthcare

TriCare

  • Any patient seeing a civilian provider under a current referral or under the Select Plan should not see any interruption in care. For those being seen at a Military Treatment Facility, see below. 
  • There has not yet been word on whether TriCare call centers will experience impact during the 2018 government shutdown. However, during the shutdown of 2013, TriCare was unaffected except for being able to pay-out travel reimbursement claims.  
  • Nurse Advice Line
    • The CONUS Nurse Advice Line is considered essential and will remain open regardless of the length of the shutdown. 

Military Hospitals and Clinics

  • Emergency and inpatient care will remain open. However, acute care, elective procedures, and primary care appointments may be canceled. If you are directly affected, you should be contacted. Information about your local hospital and clinic should be disseminated through base-wide channels. 

VA Hospitals

  • VA Hospitals will remain open and unaffected.

Social Security

  • If you currently receive Social Security checks, that will be unaffected. However, some employees might be furloughed which would effect how fast your phone call gets answered if you have further questions for them. 

Medicaid and Medicare

  • Reimbursements and offices will remain open and unaffected.

Center for Disease Control

  • Up to 60% of employees could be furloughed which will leave them at a reduced capacity, but they will continue to monitor current operations like the flu outbreak. 

Travel 

PCS and moving

  • You are currently in the middle of a PCS, you will likely not be affected much because your funds have already been appropriated. If you are PCSing in the near future, your move might be delayed. It all depends on if the duty you are transitioning into is considered essential or not, and of course if your funds have already been set aside. If you have specific questions about your upcoming move, contact your local moving office. But be aware that some PCS support personnel may be furloughed, affecting the timelines of your inquiry. However, if your PCS will be directly affected, you should be contacted. 
  • If you are moving into or out of base housing, this also might impact your PCS because of the aforementioned delays. Contact your local base housing office with specific questions. 

TSA and ATC

  • Whereas some employees might be furloughed, security operations and air traffic control will remain open at airports and other essential locations.

Passport Agency

  • Some passport offices may close due to staff being furloughed, but passport applications will continue to be processed with little to no delay expected. 

National Parks, Smithsonian, and National Zoo

  • There are conflicting reports of which National Parks and monuments will be open and which will be closed. If you are planning a visit this week, best to call ahead to find out if your plans will be impacted.  
  • According to a Tweet from The Smithsonian, the museums, research centers, and the National Zoo will be open over the weekend and on Monday, Jan 22nd. Beyond that, it’s unknown and will be decided day by day, depending on the length of the shutdown.
  • Concerned about the nation’s adorable critters? Don’t worry. Even though live animal cameras will be turned off, the animals themselves will continue to receive the same care as always. 

Mail Carriers

  • USPS will remain open; you’ll still get your mail! Companies like UPS and FedEx are privatized and unaffected. 

Judiciary Services

  • Many employees will be furloughed which will impact civil litigations. But any case dealing with the safety of life or protection of property should not be impacted. 

Other Federal Programs

MilitaryOneSource

  • The website and call center will remain fully operational and available 24/7 as usual.

 MyCAA

  • Financial assistance requests will continue to be approved and career counselors will continue to be available. 

Food Aid Programs

  • School breakfast and lunch programs will continue, as will Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP – formerly known as “food stamps”) and WIC. There are enough funds for these programs though the end of February and through March in some cases. 

Sources:

CNN, DFAS, Military.com, CBS News, Vox, Army Times, Air Force TimesDOD LiveMilitary Times on the 2013 Shutdown, Military.com, ABC News, Washington Post, USA Today, and US Passport Help Guide

 

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2 Responses to What the Government Shutdown Means for Military Families

  1. SLC January 21, 2018 at 11:13 am #

    What about Congress? Please tell me their pay is suspended somehow.

  2. Rachael February 5, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    I forget how extensive it is when I’m just thinking about myself… I personally have been deprived of a couple thousand dollars because of “an impending shutdown” this week.

    I am in the reserves and was supposed to be on orders this week in addition to having Drill this weekend. They’ve canceled both of them leaving me out a lot of money. I use that money to pay for student loans and medical insurance. I’m frustrated to no end that I won’t have it this month given that it will put a huge financial stress on our monthly budget.

    Thanks for bearing through my vent! And thanks for putting together this list. That was a lot of work!

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