While soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines are getting paid during the current government shutdown, there are an unknown number of military spouses, retirees, Reserve and Guard personnel and others working for other government agencies who are going without pay.
Within the armed forces, the Coast Guard is most affected, as they are part of the Department of Homeland Security. Coast Guard Mutual Assistance has set up a program to help Coast Guard members who have missed a paycheck; and USAA has donated $15 million to that organization to help with that assistance. Some banks and credit unions have also set up programs to provide no-interest paycheck advances to those affected by the shutdown.
A side note: the commissary in Kodiak, Alaska, which is the only commissary on a Coast Guard base that’s operated by the Defense Commissary Agency, is open for business
Other military relief societies can help those in their communities who are affected, too.
The requests are starting to come in to Army Emergency Relief for shutdown-related assistance, said Charles Durr, a retired Army command sergeant major who is chief of assistance for that relief society.
Army Emergency Relief has issued guidance for categories of assistance specifically related to the shutdown. They will provide a no-interest loan of up to $600 to meet basic living expenses as a result of missed pay,
This assistance of up to $600 is available for each pay period missed throughout the shutdown, if needed. Officials will always consider additional amounts on a case-by-case basis for compelling needs.
Spouses of active-duty soldiers who have been adversely affected by missed paychecks are eligible for assistance under normal AER requirements, based on loss of income, but there is no cap on the amount. These, too are no-interest loans.
Food, rent or mortgage payments and utilities are a few examples of the types of emergency assistance that can be provided.
The three categories of people eligible for this shutdown-specific loan program are:
- Retired soldiers who are federal employees who have been affected by the shutdown.
- Current members of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve who are federal employees affected by the shutdown. This is an exception to the current policy, waiving the requirement that Reserve Component members are eligible only if they’re on continuous Title 10 active duty orders for more than 30 consecutive days.
- Retirees who have not yet reached age 60 of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve who are federal employees affected by the shutdown.
The documents required are ID cards, a copy of the furlough notification, and a copy of their current Leave and Earnings Statement if they’re a member of the Guard or Reserve.
Loan repayments will be set up for 10 months, at $60 per payment, starting March 1. The assistance is provided in the form of loans because the employees are expected to receive back pay.
To apply for the loan, the retired or Reserve Component soldier should go into an Army Emergency Relief office, or to another military relief society office at the closest installation, or contact the American Red Cross at (877) 272-7337.
In general, there aren’t special programs in place for the government shutdown, but the regular eligibility offers great flexibility, said John Hopper Jr., a retired Air Force lieutenant general who is chief executive officer of the Air Force Air Society.
- Retired airmen who are federal employees affected by the shutdown can come to Air Force Aid Society for assistance when the loss of their paycheck creates a financial emergency, he said.
- Active duty Air Force members can seek assistance in these situations for financial hardship caused by missed paychecks of the spouse who works for an affected federal agency, he said.
Those seeking assistance from the Air Force Aid Society should visit their AFAS office at their nearest Air Force base, or another military relief society office at the closest installation, or contact the American Red Cross at (877) 272-7337.
Air Force Reserve and Air Guard members who are federal employees affected by the shutdown wouldn’t be eligible for assistance. Hopper said eligibility for this community remains tied to being on Title 10 active-duty orders for at least 16 days, and their financial emergency must be largely due to being recalled to active duty.
Navy and Marine Corps retirees and spouses of active duty and retired sailors and Marines who are furloughed federal employees are eligible for financial assistance, said Shelley Marshall, a retired Navy captain and spokesman for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
Visit www.nmcrs.org to find the nearest office, or contact the military relief society at the nearest military installation, or contact the American Red Cross at (877) 272-7337.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.