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
Deployments
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.

Deployments 

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 www.commissaries.com 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: Some civilians aren't going to be able to make their mortgage payments in full. Since the banks received a bailout from the WH, are the banks going to work with federal workers to ensure they get to keep their homes without the $200 or more late charge???
Submitted by: Egg on their faces on March 5, 2013
Comment: I believe the president and hiw wife should begin to sequester their travel for pleasure, which impacted the budget by close to 10 million in one week! That would save many jobs in the DoD!
Submitted by: Confused and angry with the Obamas on March 5, 2013
Comment: I am wondering how this will affect upcoming school slots such as WLC, ALC, WOC and so on. Thanks.
Submitted by: Curious on March 3, 2013
Comment: I am an Air Force Reservist on active duty orders (PCS orders). I was told that my active duty orders will now end March 27 instead of November 2013. That certainly effects my military pay by a 100%. Is this happening to all reservist in all the other branches or is this just happening to me and 3 others that I know.
Submitted by: Laszlo on March 3, 2013
Comment: Benefits for retired members should not be affected as they have earned these privileges. Maybe some of our public servants should relinquish some of their privileges.How many of them have served in the military?
Submitted by: pat on March 2, 2013
Comment: With troop readiness and deployment preparation delayed, what does that mean for the troops in Afghanistan that they were supposed to replace? It seems to me, if their training is delayed, their deployment may be delayed and my husband's (and all the rest of them) homecoming may be delayed as well. Do we know what will happen to the timelines of those currently deployed?
Submitted by: RainshadowNoba on March 1, 2013
Comment: I don't mind the cutbacks if they're done across the board, evenly. Our country has over spent. It keeps getting more and more bloated. Let everyone "suffer", if that's the correct term. We have to get by with less from Uncle Sam. There are too many civilians on the payroll as it is, and too many departments of government, many of which could be done away with entirely. But I'd also like to see our congress men and women, and the President, and all that work for them take a pay cut as well. As I said, spread the suffering equally.
Submitted by: Wes on March 1, 2013
Comment: Regarding furlough, I understood the explanation that it will start on April 25 but my wife who is working as a NAF employee, her boss was already cutting the hour, is this lega?
Submitted by: alfred on February 28, 2013
Comment: Check out our resource page if you are a civilian facing furlough: http://www.militaryfamily.org/feature-articles/furlough-guidance-for-service.html
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: To The Association: No need to tell an active member how BAH works. While good information, not productive to the argument. But, your other answers to about 50% of my suggestions reflect your lack of knowledge of the facts. Good try though. Good for you for pointing out that you know you are not clear on the others.
Submitted by: Pink Lady on February 28, 2013
Comment: Workers at Child Development Center encouraged to "volunteer" on furloughed days. Neighbors who are slated to move are worried it could be canceled at any time.
Submitted by: sushishrink on February 28, 2013
Comment: Reservist- The CR will add additional constraints to military budgets and impact the active duty and Guard and Reserve communities. We'll keep you updated on information as we receive it.
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: A hot breakfast has been eliminated at some forward operating bases. It is not related to sequestration, but part of the drawn down. At some locations service members have access to a dining hall and are able to take away breakfast items such as cereal and snacks. At other locations, the USO is supplementing the offerings in the dining hall by providing hot meals. Often a service member is able to pick up MREs at one time or for the week. Families have expressed concern about the breakfast reduction at some forward operating locations. http://braley.house.gov/press-release/braley-presses-pentagon-ending-breakfast-troops-serving-afghanistan
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: What about MetLife? Also, will there be any force outs? My husband should be reenlisting later this year or early next.
Submitted by: Elizabeth1212 on February 28, 2013
Comment: Pink lady - You offer many suggestions and I will try to address some of them. BAH rates are set by surveying the cost of rental properties in each geographical location. Because housing can be your greatest expense, check your BAH rate before looking for a home. They are updated yearly and usually, if you already live there, you are grandfathered in if the amount is lowered. BAH is set based on the installation zip code where the service member is stationed and is intended to cover the cost of renting a home in the local commuting area. Service members do not ordinarily get disability payments for broken thumbs and skinned knees. Training is already being curtailed to the detriment of readiness, as is almost all travel. We do not know how the Services will be addressing Permanent Change of Station moves this summer.We cannot address your suggestions concerning FSS since we are unfamiliar with the acronym. Government procurement is out of our realm of expertise.
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
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