As the United States government heads into the 24th day of a partial government shut down (the longest in U.S. history), the United States Coast Guard continues to work tirelessly and with no pay. What resources are available to our Coastie family members, and how can you help in this uncharted territory?
Politics aside, government shutdowns impact the military in a mighty way, the least of which is often a pay issue. Services, resources and day-to-day living becomes very different, and those furloughed or out-of-work during the shut down find themselves turning to various resources to continue their ‘norm’ in a very abnormal period.
Government Shut Down: A Different Kind Of Shut Down
The thing is, in shutdowns of past, when the military wasn’t funded, it was the entire military that wasn’t funded. Organizations committed to helping military members meet their financial requirements and obligations worked together to offer ‘payday’ loans and/or advances, as well as free/reduced opportunities to help balance what lacked.
This time, the partial shut down included a spending bill that funded the Department of Defense, but not the Department of Homeland Security. This meant that military members under DOD didn’t have to worry about paychecks (this time) but those serving with the United States Coast Guard do. And we all know that they are most definitely serving–just sans the pay.
Government Shut Down: What Do We Tell Our Creditors?
So how can we help? What can we do? What resources are available? The Coast Guard itself is working as best it can to provide resources and advice for its members, but there’s only so much it can do.
Angela Bailey is the Department of Homeland Security’s chief human capital officer. She and Rear Admiral Matthew Sibley, who is the Acting Assistant Commandant For Human Resources have crafted letters for civilian and military members who are impacted by the shutdown, and ask creditors and those to whom the service members owe money to give leeway as this is ‘temporary.’
Additionally, some Congress members recognize the disparity in pay funding for a branch of the armed forces and have introduced and backed the Pay Our Coast Guard Act. This would make sure that in the event of any period the government is in shutdown mode, the Coast Guard and civilian employees associated with the Coast Guard would continue to be paid.
Government Shut Down Resources For This Pay Period
But what about now? This minute? What can those who have middle-of-the-month bills but no middle-of-the-month check on its way do? In shut-downs and furloughs of past, various credit unions affiliated with military/military family members like Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA offered ‘no-interest’ loans that would provide portions of paychecks until the shutdown was resolved. Several still are; however many in the Coast Guard feel they are being discriminated against because ‘it’s just the Coast Guard.’ A Coast Guard spouse who asked to remain anonymous said that in the Coast Guard community, the ‘assistance’ being offered by USAA makes them feel like ‘red-headed stepchildren’ because it’s a loan process that rivals buying a car or boat and differs in the ‘we’re here to help you,’ feel past shutdowns have brought about. In fact, while Navy Federal is offering those no-interest loans as they have in the past, USAA is offering loans in which there *is* interest and more–denying members approval–a first for the organization in a shut-down.
So where else can Coast Guard families turn? While a Coast Guard memo has suggestions of watching other people’s children or holding garage sales (yes, really) a Coast Guard spouse says that spouses are already underemployed as it is and now being forced to find *any* paycheck still doesn’t answer the question of what to do about daycare for their kids. Many Coast Guard heavy communities and neighborhoods are pulling together with free/reduced cost resources but still–that may not be enough.
#Alameda coffee shop The Local continues to support federal employees affected by the partial #GovernmentShutdownstories They’re now accepting cash donations in addition to non-perishable food items and other necessities https://t.co/lbd342v99Z
— KTVU (@KTVU) January 12, 2019
— Lauren Healy (@LaurenWGME) January 14, 2019
If you need help or resources, check out some of the following:
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance: Assistance for Active Duty E5 and below, Civilian GS-6 and below, WG & WL Employees who earn less than $2,615 per month.
- Coast Central Credit Union: Offering Short-term loans with 0% interest, with some limited criteria to meet.
- Navy Federal Credit Union: No-interest payday loans for up to 60 days with up to $6,000 caps.
- Coast Guard Employees Credit Union: Offering loans for Coast Guard Members.
- Massachusetts Military Support Foundation: Sponsoring Food Pantries and GoFundMe accounts to help Coast Guard Families.
- Anne Arundel County Government: Offering it’s Coast Guard community countless resources to make the shut down easier.
- Adopt-A-Soldier, Door County Inc.,: Accepting donations and offering Coast Guard families loans until pay resumes.
- Chase Bank: Assistance for members with direct deposits and who are affected.
- Discover Card: Offering assistance for those with accounts and needing payment relief.
- U.S. Bank: Low interest, criteria loans and lines of credit.
- Possible Unemployment Payments: Varies state-by-state and often hindered by that ‘most in positions of national defense ARE funded and not eligible’ but worth looking into.
- American Legion: Offering a one-time grant of up to $1500 for Coast Guard families.
What else? Are you aware of any resources to share to make this shut down less difficult for our Coast Guard families? It takes a village and we’re all in it together. This time it’s the Coast Guard. There’s no guarantee that next time? Next time it could be the entire U.S. military.
Looking for more? Our friends #TheDependas chatted about the 2019 government shutdown and how it is impacting military families.