On Saturday, our government shut down. For those of us in the Armed Forces or with family members in the Armed Forces, this means that life goes on as usual, but without pay.
Our military members will still have to report for duty. They are considered essential but not essential enough to get paid. They are expected to go to work or to be considered AWOL.
The community outside of our gates will still go to work, and hope that we military families have planned for this emergency enough to keep buying things. Inside our gates, some will go to work and some won’t, depending on orders they have received over the past days.
For more information on the government shutdown, see “What the Government Shutdown Means to Military Families.”
Even though the Trump Administration has stated that no one will get paid until the shutdown is over, some will, depending on what pot their pay comes out of.
The Army’s website and direct communication (email and phone messages) to those of us with children in the DOD system, tell us that the schools will remain open (let me say a little prayer for this one before I go on). The chapels, MWR (Moral, Welfare, & Recreation) which means on-base pools, movies, and other programs will continue as planned; the PX and Class Six (basically our Walmart and liquor stores) will remain open. The post office, USO offices, and our health clinics (to a point) also will remain open.
Stateside commissaries (grocery stores) will close and overseas commissaries will remain open. ACS (Army Community Services) will close, except for Army Emergency Relief and Victim Advocacy (FAP). Museums, government parks, legal offices, education offices, and information offices will be closed. Public Affairs offices will be closed, except for Active duty personnel. DHR (Directorate of Human Resources), Safety, & DPW (Directorate of Public works) will run with limited personnel. Don’t expect to see or talk to anyone in these offices.
It’s that time of year, so if you’re in the middle of a PCS (Permanent Change of Station), you will need to contact command, which will unlikely be able to help you because all of the offices coordinating your move will either be closed or have one frazzled employee twitching in his chair as the phones continue to ring and he is unwilling to answer them because he is out of coffee (remember the commissary is closed) and he is one person doing an entire office’s job.
If you are unfortunate enough to have to deal with the death of your soldier during the shutdown, survivor’s benefits will not be paid. Those offices are closed.
How likely is this? On Saturday, two people died after a helicopter crashed at Fort Irwin during a training accident. My heart goes out to these new Gold Star families. I can only imagine the pain and stress they are going through. My hope is that this shutdown will not hinder their abilities to lay their soldiers to proper rest.
So yes, our government has shut down, but, for most of us, life will go on. The school buses will come and go today. The Spouses Club volunteers will continue to plan their big spring fundraiser. Red Cross, USO and other volunteer agencies will be there to help us with our emergency needs. We can still buy beer, dog food, and underwear (those of us who aren’t panicking about how to pay our credit card bills and fix the brakes on the car). We will be able to gas up our cars, and take the kids to the pool, to the movies, and to the doctor. We can grocery shop on the economy (with whatever meager funds we’ve managed to save).
Mostly, we can watch our children play and enjoy being in each other’s presence, as not all of us have that luxury. And we can hope that our political leaders come to an agreement before we all run out of money. At the very least, perhaps they can publish more recent policy. But, that may be too much to ask. After the brutal gutting of the Public Affairs department over the drawdown. There aren’t many greensuiters left to do that, leaving us with our now furloughed civilians to give us information.
Resources available for financial counseling and/or stress counseling: https://www.army.mil/article/112425/