Rumor Has It…Sequestration and Military Families

Money in Vice

When sequestration began March 1, we started to compile facts about the effects of sequestration. Because this is a living page, we will continue to provide updated information from the military Services on how they will implement the sequestration cuts and remain in conversation with senior DoD officials.

Click on a topic below to learn more about where military families can expect to see changes.


Military pay
Tuition Assistance
Wounded Warrior programs
DoD civilian furloughs
Military Health Care and TRICARE
Community Support Services
Schools for Military Children
Child Development Centers
Commissaries and Exchanges
PCS Orders

Military pay 

Fact: Military pay and allowances are protected. Paychecks will be paid on time and basic allowance for housing and other pays will continue. Retirees and survivors will also continue to receive their payments and annuities.


Fact: Department of Defense (DoD) is protecting funding for operations in Afghanistan and not cutting accounts related to war operations. The bad news is that other accounts will be subject to greater cuts. The passage of a bill to fund the government for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year will help the Services--especially the Army and Marine Corps--pay for training, but may not be enough to ensure timely preparation of replacements for service members currently deployed.

Tuition Assistance 

Fact: The recently-passed bill to fund the government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2013, directed DoD to restore Tuition Assistance (TA) and barred it from cutting more than the required sequestration percentage cut from the program. The Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard have announced they will reinstate TA. Unfortunately, the language in the funding bill did not provide any additional money for the program. Therefore, DoD will have to find savings from other programs to cover the cost of restoring it. All Services say they are still working on the details of how to reinstate the program for the rest of this year.

Wounded Warrior programs 

Fact: DoD says wounded warrior programs are protected. But, support for wounded warriors and their families is provided through several different programs, including military health care, the Army Wounded Warrior Program, Marine for Life, and Navy Safe Harbor. Many of these programs are staffed by civilians who might be furloughed. Army officials told us they will protect the civilians supporting the disability evaluation process for wounded warriors from furlough. More details are needed before we can determine just how total support for wounded warriors and their families will be affected.

DoD civilian furloughs 

Fact: DoD officials are now saying that most of the 800,000 DOD civilians around the world could be furloughed for up to 14 days, not the 22 days originally announced. Because of the new law that funds the government for the rest of the year, DoD announced it would delay sending furlough notices until early April. Civilian employees could be furloughed beginning in June. Furlough days could result in a 20 percent pay cut for the weeks furloughs apply. All parts of the country and military communities overseas will be affected. Eighty percent of DoD civilians work outside of the National Capital region. DoD has identified only limited exceptions to the furloughs, including civilians in war zones, foreign workers overseas, and political appointees, but the additional available funding could expand those exceptions. Click here for additional information regarding furlough guidance for service civilians. Click here for additional information regarding furlough guidance for service civilians.

Military Health Care and TRICARE 

Fact: The military health system is NOT exempt and will be cut by $3 billion. DoD civilians, who will be subject to furlough, make up 40 percent of the total workforce in military hospitals and clinics. This could result in reductions in clinic hours and care. Referrals for “elective” care might be delayed or frozen. If sequestration drags on, DoD may delay payment to civilian doctors who see TRICARE patients.

Fact: Funding for TRICARE for Life and Medicare is protected, except that Medicare payments to doctors will be cut by 2 percent under sequestration. So, Medicare-eligible TRICARE beneficiaries can continue to visit their civilian doctors and have their medical claims paid. TRICARE for Life beneficiaries who receive care in military hospitals and clinics may find it more difficult to get an appointment because of civilian furloughs. They may also find that the military pharmacy is trying to save money by no longer stocking some medications or filling prescriptions for a smaller number of days than usual. Pharmacy civilian staff will also be furloughed and so wait times at the pharmacies may climb. We encourage beneficiaries to check out TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery.

Community Support Services 

Fact: Offices that service military families – Army Community Service, Fleet and Family Support Centers, Airman and Family Service Centers, Marine Corps Community Services – could have to adjust hours and services due to the civilian furloughs. They are also subject to hiring freezes. Smaller staffs will result in longer waits for families needing services such as counseling, financial advice, new parent support programs, survivor outreach, and victim advocates.

Schools for Military Children 

Fact: While Department of Defense schools are NOT exempt from civilian furloughs, DoD insists they will work to provide school children with a full year of quality education and ensure each school maintains its accreditation. Press reports in early April state that there will be no furlough-related DoD school closures for the current school year. No decision has been made about the start of the 2013-14 school year. Click here for additional information on how the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is planning for sequestration.

Fact: It’s important to remember that military families will also be hurt by cuts to civilian schools. Federal education programs face cuts of $106 million in Impact Aid money that supports civilian schools educating military kids; $1 billion in special education programs; $140 million in student financial aid; and $1.3 billion in Title I funding that helps many schools attended by military children.

Child Development Centers 

Fact: The impact on Child Development Centers (CDC) and Child and Youth Services is unclear. Some centers are staffed by Non-appropriated fund (NAF) workers who will not be affected by furloughs. Others are staffed by civilian government employees and some by a mixture of both types. Centers staffed by DoD civilians will be affected by furloughs. Decisions on cutbacks on hours or services will be made locally.

Commissaries and Exchanges 

Fact: The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has withdrawn its earlier decision that commissaries and its headquarters would probably close on Wednesdays. While no official announcement has been made, DeCA has received agreement from some of the unions representing its employees that the commissary closure day will be Mondays, beginning in June. If a commissary is already closed on Monday, then the sequestration closure day will be on Tuesday. You can check your local commissary’s schedule by going to and clicking on the “Locations” tab.

Fact: Military exchanges (AAFES, NEXCom, Marine Corps Exchange) do not receive appropriated funding (other than some support for shipping goods overseas) and so will not have to adjust hours because of sequestration.

PCS Orders 

Fact: What will happen to Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves is unclear. Funds for PCS moves will be available, but transportation offices will be short-staffed because of civilian furloughs. We were told in late March that most moves would happen as scheduled, but that cuts in training funds could affect moves tied to training. Each Service will decide soon on the extent of PCS moves this summer.

Visit our resource page for more information about sequestration guidance from DoD and the Military Services. 

What are you hearing in your community? Are there questions you’d like answered?

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Comment: Is there pay freeze on American Army soldiers in Benghazi?
Submitted by: GI Jaine on March 1, 2014
Comment: The effects of this will result in more suicides and divorces. Why are we "supporting our military" like this-BS!!!! Let's just turn this into the UNITED STATES OF CHINA and UNITED STATES OF WELFARE. My husband and I fought all these years for this?
Submitted by: flybylady on July 16, 2013
Comment: Sequestration is a scam to increase the wealth gap between the 1% and the rest. Thanks to a bought and paid for (bribed) Congress and President, the 99% including military rank & file and support employees will take the brunt of those "cuts." Do you honestly believe that the elite military contractors will have to cut back? (in fact $$$ for these contractors have increased, even with sequestration.) GDP is determined by federal spending & investment plus private spending and investment minus net imports. Reduce federal spending and you automatically reduce GDP (national income).Closing Commissaries and Exchanges even one day a week is outrageous. The federal government is monetarily sovereign, meaning it can NEVER run short of dollars, doesn't need to save dollars (it simply creates them electronically via approval of Congress & The US Dept Treasury and those dollars are dispersed through the Fed banking system. @Wes below. How do you know the country has "over spent"? Chances are you heard this from liars who want to increase the wealth gap between the rich and the rest by screwing over YOU and your military colleagues. Tell me, when will our monetarily sovereign government run out of dollars? People have screamed for a decade about the "cost" of the middle east conflicts, when the $$$ were created electronically. The US can't run out of dollars unless Congress and the President will it.
Submitted by: SteveD on June 18, 2013
Comment: Obummer needs to stay at home a little more to save Americans money. Millions of dollars spent a week on vacations? And then turn around and take money from hard working people, that in my eyes is BS period. Oh and I know, if I wanted to live high on the hog, I should have gotten into politics. Well I'd rather keep on stuggeling then be hated by so many for doing things like this to the American people. I hope they (any politician that has to do with robbing the American people)sleep good at night. In which they probably do.
Submitted by: Dankabertal on April 12, 2013
Comment: If they cut PCS out here.....90% of Marines here in Okinawa will freak out me being one of them.
Submitted by: FOKI on April 11, 2013
Comment: Fact: Military pay is protected from sequestration cuts, but civil service pay is not. I'm a DoD civil service employee and am trying to figure out how I'll pay my bills with 20% of my pay gone next month.
Submitted by: Steve on March 12, 2013
Comment: Will there still be an education program in Europe and Asia or will those contracts be cancelled? Europe's ends tips year, so will the on base schools go away? With no TA who would fill classes? Won't everyone just go online?
Submitted by: CandyCorn on March 12, 2013
Comment: The overseas bases are cutting off the heat a month and a half early because of the sequester.
Submitted by: AFMom on March 12, 2013
Comment: I have heard from my grand nephew who was recently deployed again to Afghanistant that as a result of sequestration, breakfast will cease being served.What have you heard about this outrageous development? Thanks very much, Frank Pagani
Submitted by: Frank on March 11, 2013
Comment: Pat - The Army and Marine Corps have cancelled tuition assistance grants for new tuition assistance applicants or classes. Students currently enrolled in courses eligible for tuition assistance will be allowed to complete those courses, but will not be able to receive assistance for additional coursework. Service members should contact their Education Offices for more information.
Submitted by: The Association on March 10, 2013
Comment: Dear Pat: Both Army and Marine Corps have stopped accepting new tuition assistance requests. Army personnel can find more details here:
Submitted by: USMCwife on March 8, 2013
Comment: Son-in-law in army. Daughter and he are doing online classes and working towards degree. Heard this morning from her that financial aid from military is cut off. Is this true?
Submitted by: Pat on March 8, 2013
Comment: I believe that our representatives are at fault for this, I recommend that they start thinking like Americans instead of party loyalty.
Submitted by: Pacho on March 7, 2013
Comment: Marines have no bullits to shoot down range,they are yelling,Butter,Butter,Jam.Troops are buying their own toilet paper,pens,pencils,paper and trash cans, no hard copy phamplets, so some marines and navy are buying lap tops or tablets to recieve instructions,pamplets and more.
Submitted by: scooterman on March 5, 2013
Comment: Does congress and the white know that most DOD civilians are middle class workers who keep money in the community? My husband and I will lose over $1000 a month. There goes me shopping for clothes, shoes, going to movies, stores, resturants, and gas for my vehicles. I have no other alternative cause I will no longer have and additional money in my pocket to help our community.
Submitted by: Theres goes the neighborhood on March 5, 2013
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