Government Shutdown - What Military Families Need to Know

4/8/11 see updated commissary and family support service information

4/8/11 3:20 pm – see updated health care information

4/8/11 8:36 am - see updated Retiree pay and commissary information

We are hours away from a possible government shutdown, which has created worry and stress for military families. Fiscal Year 2011 started on October 1, 2010, but Congress has yet to approve the needed funding bills to keep most of the government, including the Department of Defense running. Temporary spending bills—Continuing Resolutions—have provided short-term funding since October, but the latest expires this Friday, April 8. Some in Congress are trying to ensure service members get paid even if an agreement is not reached on a temporary measure or on the larger Omnibus Appropriations Act needed to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year. Military service members and their families are concerned about whether they will get paid on time and also whether essential services will be available.

The number one question we have heard from families is – will my service member be paid on the 15th? Service members are exempt from furloughs, meaning they still have to work. Their work will be paid for, the question is when? Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Wednesday:

  • if the government shuts down on April 8 and goes for a week, service members would get half of a check on April 15 (pay from the April 1 – 8)
  • if the shutdown runs past April 15, service members would receive pay after the budget or a Continuing Resolution is passed.

Retirees will receive their retirement pay. Reserve component personnel should refer to their chain of command for specific information.

What Family Support and Installation Services Will Remain Open During a Shutdown?

We now have new information from the Office of Military Community and Family Policy on the status of many important family support services.:

  • Department of Defense Education Activity – DODEA – Schools will remain open.
  • Commissaries will remain open world-wide.
  • Exchanges will remain open world-wide.
  • Child Development Centerswill remain open with priority given to service members and DoD civilians supporting mission-essential operations.
  • Family Support Center staffing will be determined by installation commanders.
  • Military OneSource’s website and call center will remain fully operational.
  • Military Family Life Counselorsare available and will telework if access to offices is prohibited.
  • Family Advocacy Program Each Service will determine staffing at each installation.
  • MWR – Morale Welfare and Recreation programs will close.  However, installation lodges will remain open.
  • Education Centers for Family Members and Service Members will be closed. This includes counseling services, testing centers, learning centers and computer labs.  Tuition assistance will not be authorized or granted.
  • MyCAA – Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts will remain available and are unaffected by the furlough.
  • Military Treatment facilities will be open (see below)
Because the availability of some installation services will vary, we encourage you to call your installation information line before you visit.

Where to go for Financial Help

Do not turn to payday lenders – your military community has the resources to provide assistance. If your family experiences a hardship due to a reduced paycheck, we urge you to seek assistance from a military aid organization or military bank or military credit union. Aid organizations and military banks and credit unions have short term loans available to help in this situation.

Aid organizations will remain open and are ready and willing to help service members and their families.

Air Force Aid Society (AFAS):

Army Emergency Relief (AER):

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA):

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS):

Reserve Aid:

If you are not located to near an aid organization, you may seek financial assistance from the Red Cross or call 866-563-1376. Each aid organization has an agreement with the Red Cross to provide the same type of financial assistance to military families.

Our Association has contacted a sampling of military banks and credit unions. In the event of a government shutdown, some military banks and credit unions may waive fees associated with the possible shutdown. Others have stated they will consider permitting families to skip a loan or credit card payment. We urge military families to contact their bank to review their individual situation and the guidance established by their financial entity.

Military families who use automatic payments are encouraged to contact their bank and make alternative arrangements. For example, families may transfer money from a savings account to a checking account to cover the automatic payment.

Health Care
If you normally get your health care in a military hospital or military clinic, you may find appointments may be cancelled or some medical, lab, or pharmacy services will not be available during a government shutdown.  Depending on each military hospital or military clinic’s staffing, there will probably be a different mix of available services. So, we advise families to call whatever phone number you would normally call for information or to make an appointment before you travel to your military hospital or military clinic for any reason.
As always, if you or a family member has an emergency medical situation, immediately go to the closest emergency room or dial 911. If the need is not an emergency, but you need urgent care and cannot get in touch with anyone at your military hospital or military clinic, we recommend that you call your TRICARE Regional contractor for information and instructions. Here is their contact information:

North: Health Net at 1.888.874.2273
South:  Humana at 1.800.444.5445
West: TriWest at 1.888.874.9378

If you normally get your care from civilian health care providers, you should not notice a disruption in service due to the shutdown. TRICARE contractors will continue to provide all of their services and their call centers will be operational. They will still pay claims and their mental health services will be operational.

Want to ensure a steady supply of your medications during unexpected situations, like any future government shutdowns or environmental disaster, consider home delivery! Click here for more information.

We will continue to update this page as information becomes available.

Related Articles:

Continuing Family Support During a Shutdown:

Overview of DoD Workforce Plans

Service Members would earn pay during shutdown

Shut down Could Impact Young Troops Most

Defense Finance and Accounting Services Statement with FAQs

DoD Government Shutdown Page

Deputy Defense Secretary Releases Shutdown Guidance

Government shutdown: How it will affect veterans

PHS Commissioned Corps Status in the Event of Government Shutdown Remains Unclear


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Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.

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