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: ATTN The Association. I was told by my friends who are deployed and unable to eat in the morning. that the chow hall is CLOSED in the morning so in order to get a MRE they have to show up at a certain time the day before. now these guys are unable to show up because they work Mids and it is too late to pick up a MRE at dinner and there is nothing inbetween dinner and lunch!!!!! they are also asking people here in the states to send cereal beacause they only have a certain amount of MRE's everyday..
Submitted by: fawnze on February 27, 2013
Comment: So, this will probably make a lot of you unhappy. But, being in the military is a job. If you don't like the new budget cuts then get out and find a job that pays you better. There is no sense in blaming other people for your problems. If the benefits and money aren't good enough, my husband will get out and work as a civilian. If you're a civilian and the cuts are going to effect you, work somewhere else. I realize it sucks for everyone, but whining doesn't do any good.
Submitted by: Peg on February 27, 2013
Comment: I am hearing anger and frustration because of our federal government's failure to do the right thing. The answers are simple, cut back, stop excessive spending, cut salaries of the Congress and the President. Why do we have to suffer and not them!!!
Submitted by: Lindy on February 27, 2013
Comment: It's Obama and the Democrats who need to compromise. We need to cut spending without increasing taxes.
Submitted by: Bern on February 27, 2013
Comment: I would support the Department cutting out holler programs like the military spouse employment programs verse meaning programs staffed by our civilian works force. The current spouse employment program contractor is doing an awlful disservice to the partners and spouses. I attended a job fair and the contractor did not know the program. Waht happened to the other people that visited the installations and really knew our needs.
Submitted by: Sammie on February 27, 2013
Comment: Some of you information is false. The pay cut for my husbands civilian job is going to drastically hurt. It may even mean we lose our house.
Submitted by: Army Family 101 on February 27, 2013
Comment: Our President,and Congress are the biggest threat to National security!! They are behaving like Two yr olds, having a temper tantrum!!!!
Submitted by: betsy on February 27, 2013
Comment: "What are you hearing in your community? Are there questions you’d like answered?" These are the questions the article asked. I've skimmed through the first 20 comments and haven't read a single worthwhile question. All this bickering and finger pointing shows you are all no better than the people you are blaming for this mess. You are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Step up to the plate and post worthwhile questions and concerns.
Submitted by: annielouise69 on February 27, 2013
Comment: Uncertainty for military is never good. Stress on military is never good. We are educated on the importance of family and home life affecting the active duty member's ability to perform well in combatant missions. Stress is no good for our active duty members to keep a level head when it counts on deployments. This uncertainty, especially in areas of healthcare, DO affect our active duty members who are deployed. I personally have felt the effects already in being able to get an appointment and prescriptions when I am sick. The wait time has been ridiculous to even get an appointment, much less get your prescription filled for me or my daughter. Its like the doctors are afraid to even prescribe medicine. We have been warned that this summer it will get worse, and wait time will be awful to get an appt. This makes getting out at ten years look REALLY inviting! He can become an airline pilot and get new healthcare insurance if this is how its going to be. With my husband being deployed, this has weighed heavily on his mind, especially in regards to our 16 month old daughter not being able to receive deserved healthcare. Something's gotta give....
Submitted by: Uncertain Wife on February 27, 2013
Comment: Cut obamas golf dates michelles tv time thier vacations kids private schools and and need I go on this would save the country MILLIONS!!!
Submitted by: on February 27, 2013
Comment: Tri-care for retired military is going to cost 2000.00 a year? Active Duty will have to start paying for Tri-care?
Submitted by: Mil on February 27, 2013
Comment: I am a USMC wife. It's appalling that DC pushes for legalizing illegal immigrants and their children while my children who were born to legal citizens and who have a father who serves this country will be the ones to deal with the effects of budget cuts. Govt civilian hiring and force strength grew way too much over the last few years and did not cut back when operational tempo reduced. I have worked in a CDC and know that there are more staff than needed in many programs. We have to cut the budget somewhere. I know it stinks that while the Prez pushes for MORE funding for universal preschool (not needed) and extension of unemployment, food stamps, etc., my husband's future may be uncertain as a veteran of Iraq twice and someone who loves being a Marine. We will adjust our life and budget as necessary and without a lot of savings if sequestration goes really deep then we may have to adjust our lifestyle more than we already do to live on one income. This govt needs to get smaller-in all areas.
Submitted by: The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide on February 27, 2013
Comment: I guess that DOD job I applied for and was at the hiring authority is gone now!
Submitted by: Rainydog on February 27, 2013
Comment: Obama's idea? Yes. Idea's made so drastic so that it would force the "Super Committee" to find cuts in spending. Super Committee failed. Obama's idea voted on, and approved, by both the House and Senate with the GOP majority in the House voting for it and the Democratic majority in the Senate voting for it. So it is everyone's fault we have the sequester. The POTUS for drafting it, majority of GOP in the House (269 to 141), including Boehner, and the majority of the Dems in the Senate (74 to 26).
Submitted by: Husband on February 27, 2013
Comment: Why doesn't Obama stop going on talk shows and going on a million vacations. Or stop chemtrails to kill us. That would take care of it. Always threatens us. He is a joke
Submitted by: freedomislost on February 27, 2013
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