It had been weeks since the government shutdown first happened, bringing turmoil to many families across the country. One group that is greatly affected is the Coast Guard family, like my own. These are families that sacrifice daily in so many ways—including time with their spouse, children, families, holidays, birthdays, friendships, etc. and that is just on an ordinary day. When you add in a government shutdown, the cost grows immensely and adds more stress than anyone can understand.
Due to this government shutdown, they are no longer simply giving up time and relationships, instead they are sacrificing their paychecks, their livelihoods, a way to put food on their tables, and maintain a roof over their heads.
The conversations in my household
In my house, there has been quite a bit of discussion on this topic over the last couple of weeks. I think we’ve experienced every emotion over the situation, from anger to sadness, and, most of all, anxious. I’ve cried tears not just out of despair over the entire situation, but out of frustration. We’ve talked ourselves to death just trying to figure out how we are going to pay our bills, let alone buy groceries and put gas in our vehicles. Every single day is met with the stress of our current situation.
There have many different opinions on the current lapse in pay for the Coast Guard. Many out there are outraged at this reality and sympathetic to the plight of our families. However, the most surprising part has been those that believe in some way our fear is our own fault.
Realities of military life
In an ideal world, we would all have an emergency fund to alleviate any worries about money in this exact situation. The reality, however, is that few have that luxury. Many of us for one reason or another, no longer have the money that was once in our savings accounts. Others simply do not make enough to do anything other than live paycheck to paycheck. That is just one of the truths of living this life.
Some of us have family members that are able to help us out as we face the day that paycheck does not hit our accounts. Though, that help will only go so far, and it will only pay for so much. Coast Guard members are being forced to take loans just to pay their basic necessities and buy food for their families. These are loans that they will now have to payback, putting yet another financial strain on their lives. There are even those members that are considering finding a temporary job of some kind, just to have even a little bit of income for their household.
What many people don’t understand is that this shutdown is very different from those of the past. Previously, bills were passed in order to protect the pay of our military. However, this time the only branch that is affected by the shutdown is the Coast Guard because it falls under the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense (DOD). The defense department was given a budget months ago, so the paychecks of the other branches have not been in question at all.
The consequence of this government shutdown now lies on the 42,000+ military members of the US Coast Guard, along with TSA workers and other federal employees.
The other piece of this is that the lapse in appropriations for the Coast Guard has begun to affect more than just their pay. Units, like the ones that patrol the waters to interdict drugs, save lives, and protect our shores, are finding themselves without the resources they need as well. And, the men and women of the Coast Guard have been and will continue to put on their uniforms and report in every day.
Every single one of the 42,000+ members of the US Coast Guard and their families is greatly affected by this shutdown. They are worried about putting feeding their families, keeping a roof over their heads, and paying their bills. They are afraid they will not be able to put gas in their vehicles or afford diapers for their children. On top of all this, the members have to carry the weight of putting on the uniform they are so proud to wear, while facing the realities of financial hardship and taking care of their own families.
If you know of an organization stepping up to assist Coast Guard families and other federal workers impacted by the government shutdown, please post the information in the comments,
Here is a compiled list of places extending support to Coast Guard families: People Want to Help.