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: Kate - to answer your question, we have been told that DoD schools will work to provide school children with a full year of quality education and ensure each school maintains its accreditation.
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: Contract RN "Navy Wife"-There is no one answer for the impact on contract workers. Present contracts should be honored. Future contracts may be cancelled, modified or postponed. For a specific answer, check with your contracting agency.
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: To add some clarification - Active duty will NOT be paying for TRICARE.
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: Mil - TRICARE Prime Enrollment fees for retirees are: •Individual: $269.28 per year •Family: $538.56 per year Increases in further years are tied to cost of living increases in retirement pay.
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: Lizstong - We have been told that training and travel will be curtailed. It is hard to say how this will impact promotions. It would be good to check with your detailer or assignments manager to see how this may be handled in your Service.
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: Fawnze - we'd like to hear more about the MRE situation. Can you email us at info@militaryfamily.org with more information regarding where your friend is deployed and what unit/service he or she is associated with? Thanks!
Submitted by: The Association on February 28, 2013
Comment: Will rank advancement be more difficult do to all of this. The billets are already shrinking will this make it worse?
Submitted by: Lizstong on February 28, 2013
Comment: Our son, who is currently at tech school, is being told the Researve and Gaurd students will be sent home. Theier training will be put on hold; due to furloughs of civilian instructors. Priority given to active duty.
Submitted by: Dawn VH on February 28, 2013
Comment: The Sequestration and Continuing Resolution (CR)could have a very negative impact on Reservists' pay. The CR prohibits commands from publishing Reserve Personnel Appropriation (RPA) orders that extend beyond 27 Mar 2013. RPA includes annual training, school and active duty for special work (ADSW) funding. So what? This means that commands do not have the authority to obligate RPA funds after the end date of the CR, therefore, RPA orders will not be published if they have a start date on or after 28 Mar 13 and all long tour RPA orders will be modified to end on 27 Mar 13 unless or until the CR is extended. RPA also includes Inactive Duty for Training (IDT) therefore, members should NOT perform paid IDTs on or after 28 Mar 13 if the CR or an ongoing appropriation is not passed before midnight on 27 Mar 13.
Submitted by: Reservist on February 28, 2013
Comment: There are many areas within the DoD that could be cut with little impact to the quality of life necessities such as housing and education. False for Military pay and allowances may not cover the BAH cut that we experienced. Cutting housing allowances after members are already committed to living expenses is harmful. Possibly cut the allowance at the point of PCS so that members can secure housing within their means. Cut the huge expensive "parties" given by FSS. Move a percentage of the MWR proceeds to the CDC. Close the Clubs and use the facilities like community centers. Eliminate unnecessary PCS by considering local candidates to fill open slots. Reduce training sorties. Fly more sims. Do away with excessive spending on AEF training travel. Get better airfare rates from the commercial carriers (have you seen what we pay for a round trip ticket? ridiculous). Review DLA (take it from someone who has been in the premier vendor role, govt procurement spending is excessive). Cut unnecessary Disabled Veteran status for broken thumbs and skinned knees as a means for eliminating not productive members. If you are not productive, you are out.
Submitted by: Pink lady on February 28, 2013
Comment: You wanted cuts so you stupid republican got them-look around - it's the republicans that are getting the blame
Submitted by: davidbrucelink on February 28, 2013
Comment: My wife works for a contractor and her company has had layoffs already. More are in the works. My wife may lose her job in this coming month.
Submitted by: jimengr on February 28, 2013
Comment: Will DOD schools be switching to 4 days a week b/c of the budget cuts?
Submitted by: kate on February 28, 2013
Comment: They should have waited on doing this until we were well down the road on getting out of Afghanistan... I am very dissapointed in my congressional leadership
Submitted by: worried soldier on February 28, 2013
Comment: I am glad that the NMFA is addressing the rumor mill. There are so many untruths concerning the Sequestration that are being generated by both the politicians and the news media. There is only going to be a 2.4% this year. Remember that President Obama implemented this action . So, lets wait and see what the impacts actually happen. Lets all stop being a 'Chicken Little'
Submitted by: bartha on February 27, 2013
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