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How A Government Shutdown Could Affect Military Families

As we get closer to a possible government shutdown, I wanted to take this opportunity to make sure everyone understands the ways in which a government shutdown might affect military families.  It could affect many different aspects of life, including pay, medical, moving, the commissaries, and leave.

I’m going to put a brief summary here so that I don’t make this too long.  If you are looking for the long version, please see the never-ending coverage at The Paycheck Chronicles.  I’ve been eating and breathing government shutdown for the last few weeks and I think I finally have a pretty good handle on what is probably going to happen.  No guarantees, though – I’m just an amateur!

Pay: Military pay is in danger of being affected unless one of the following four things happen:

  1. A federal budget is passed.
  2. A Defense Appropriations Act is passed.
  3. Another continuing resolution is passed.
  4. Special legislation is passed to allow the military to be paid in spite of the other things not happening.

As it currently stands, if none of the above occurs, the 15 April 2011 pay would be for 1 April through 8 April.  Any pay earned after 8 April would not be paid until the budget is somehow resolved.

Leave: The Office of Personnel Management has issued guidance that no federal employees may be on leave during a government shutdown.  It does not state how this might affect military personnel.  Until we hear otherwise, we have to assume that this will be true for the military as well.  I have even heard rumor that personnel could be required to return from leave if a shutdown occurs.

Medical: Longtime SpouseBUZZ reader and commenter Damsel has provided the following information on medical services:

I work at an Army health clinic/hospital. Just to add what I know… Our civilian providers are considered mission-essential and will report to work during a furlough. Certain departments will be minimally staffed to support the providers (i.e. the laboratory and pharmacy), but others will be closed (i.e. radiology). In any case, these departments will not fulfill requests carried in by patients from outside providers.

The information on this is limited.  Most medical is predicted to remain the same.  I have heard that certain non-essential services may be postponed during a shutdown.  I would imagine that civilian care providers would not be at work.

Moves: No one seems to know if a shutdown would affect PCS moves.  On one hand, the government can not write new contracts while it is shutdown.  On the other hand, it seems that movers would be able to proceed with already contracted moves.   On the third hand, the civilians that oversee the moving won’t be at work.  In a nutshell, who knows?

Commissaries: Update:  DeCA EUROPE has stated that their commissaries will be shutdown.  It is unclear, at this time, if that is going to be true for all commissaries or just the ones within the Europe region.  Please ask at your local store, but also understand that this information just came out yesterday and accurate facts may not have made their way down the chain of command.

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), after weeks of giving out useless information, has finally admitted that they will be closed during a government shutdown.  Do your commissary shopping now, folks!

I apologize for giving the short version here, but I did not want this to turn into a twelve page post.  Please put your questions and thoughts in the comments and I’ll answer whatever I can.

Update – See the Links Below for More Specific Information:

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III Message to DOD Workforce on Potential Government Shutdown

Government Shutdown – What Military Families Need to Know

Childcare and DoD Schools

DFAS Speaks on Pay Issues

Finally, the DoD Speaks

NMCRS Publishes Aid Guidelines in Case of Delays in Military Pay

About She of the Sea

Oh dear - SpouseBUZZ wants a bio from me. I hate writing bios! What do you want to know? I'm a Navy wife and have been for something less than 20 years. I have four daughters who are approaching the teenage years faster than I can drink a Diet Coke. I love writing for SpouseBUZZ because I know that someone out there understands whatever it is I am saying. I also write about money at The Paycheck Chronicles and I am studying for the Certified Financial Planner exam. This year, I have managed to avoid most of my usual volunteer responsibilities (Girl Scouts, PTO, church, etc.) so that I can focus on helping out at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. It also allows me to make decent but unappreciated dinners and keep relatively up on the laundry.

Still haven't learned to get Christmas cards out on time, though.