What a Government Shutdown Means to a Military Family
I live in a military town, most of my friends are Army wives, most of the people I know here have a connection to the military in one way or another. That means that when there is a government shutdown, most of the people around here have to deal with the consequences of that.
While it seems hardly anyone in Washington even thinks about what a government shutdown means to a military family, those of us who are living it, feel the pain of the shutdown in many different ways. We already might be struggling, trying to figure out how to navigate military life and now we have an added stress upon us, until the government figures out how to fix all of this.
One of the biggest issues is, of course, pay.
Sure, active duty military will eventually get paid. But when? We know that the February 1st paycheck will be okay but beyond that? We can’t be sure. Luckily banks such as USAA and Navy Fed are stepping in to help.
However, those banks can’t help the emotional stress this type of thing can bring. Most people count on a regular paycheck, that is why they work. They put in their time, get paid, repeat. When there is a chance that pay can be disrupted, emotions can be all over the place.
If a service member is deployed, the idea that you wouldn’t get a regular paycheck is terrifying.
Here your spouse is, putting themselves in harm’s way, and while they are doing this the family has to stress about possibly not get paid? Why does America think this is an okay thing to do? The military should always get paid, on time, without question.
Over the weekend two soldiers were killed in an Apache helicopter crash in California. They will not be getting their death benefit when they should because of the shutdown. This to me is inexcusable, it’s disgusting, and we know they will not be the only ones who might have to deal with this.
Beyond issues of pay, there are other factors we have to think about.
Here at Fort Campbell, the Commissary will be closed later this week. Now, since we do live in an American city we have other choices, but at the same time, there are some things you can get at the Commissary for cheaper than in another grocery store in the area. While not having access to the Commissary here won’t cause anyone to starve, it can mess with a budget, especially if the government shutdown lasts a long time. At this point, we don’t know how long we will be without.
Friends who are overseas will have to deal with other issues from not getting their mail to possibly not being able to move when they need to or even to get orders that they should. AFN services were unavailable although they did announce that they are able to bring back AFN News and AFN Sports. While this does not seem like that big of a deal, it still messes with the morale of the service member and their families, especially with the Super Bowl coming up 😉
The National Guard and the Reserves can be hit hard when monthly drills, classes, and trainings are canceled.
This means less pay for the family that is probably depending on it, I know we are. This means a setback for someone who is trying to further their career. This means that we will be less prepared and that is never a good thing for our country.
Beyond the military, there are other downsides to this government shutdown, with National Parks and even the Smithsonian possibly having to close to not being paid for a federal job. The shutdown causes havoc and the longer it goes on, the worse it will be.
As military spouses we know that this life isn’t always going to be easy, no one is expecting it to be. However, when something like this happens, the added stress is a little too much and all we really want someone with the power to listen and fix this.
Stop using the military as a bargaining chip.
Make sure military pay is ALWAYS a done deal, no matter what. Understand that messing with military pay and benefits adds an extra hardship to our military families that we do not need to deal with. Whatever the debate is about, whatever is holding up the budget, take military pay and benefits out of it.
Although so few Americans are actually serving in the military, our country depends on the service of those who have decided to do so. We can’t treat them this way, we can’t let them down this way, we are better than that.
It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you are on. It doesn’t matter who you voted for or who you support.
We all need to be on the side of making sure the military has what they need and has what they signed up for.
We need to make sure we don’t think of what is going on as normal or just the way things are. It is not okay and it should never be okay.
I hope the government shutdown ends soon, I hope that those who will be struggling through this will be able to figure out how to make things work. I hope that in the future the military is not treated this way, although I don’t have much hope for that to happen.
I hope that through all of this we can come together as a military community, help one another out, and know that our military is so strong because of the people serving and the families that support them.