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: Enough of blaming the GOP. Just remember that the President and Democrat controlled Senate will NOT budge on cutting ANYTHING ELSE and they want to RAISE taxes INSTEAD of CUT! The GOP is trying to get things done and instead are being blamed for not stopping the sequester. Here's a tid bit-how about you start calling the Dems to STOP trying to raise taxes and start cutting EVERYTHING else! Did you know THEIR pay is protected? Did you The sequester of the military funds was the President's idea! So, to those who insistently blame the GOP: STOP WATCHING CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, CBS and NBC. Use the brains God gave you and research. It's called Civics. Go read up on it and stop being ignorant.
Submitted by: Stop the insanity on February 27, 2013
Comment: I love how Dems blame the Republicans. So what part of it was Obama's idea do you not understand. The House which are run by the Republicans have passed revisions 2 times and sent them to the house, it is the Senate and the President that have not acted to stop this from happening. So please before you make yourselves look dumber( if that is even possible) please read more than CNN and MSNBC. You people are sheeple. Understand that in 8 years Bush gave us 4 Trillion in new debit, Obama has given us 6 Trillion in 4 years. If you want to cut let's look at food stamps, social security, and wasteful spending in projects that go bankrupt that the administration just throws money at. Cut aid to other countries. That would be great to do but it isn't on the administrations path. So it is the President's fault. He is the leader of the country. You blamed Bush now have the same intestinal fortitude to blame Obama. There is such a hypocritical attitude in this country.
Submitted by: SSGWright on February 27, 2013
Comment: Stopping the sequester is not the answer. We must get spending under control. It is our POTUS choice where the cuts come from. They can cut govt. grants, squirrel research, money we give Hamas, Egypt, EPA, etc. Instead, they threaten vital services to scare the American public. Democrats want to purposely cut "where it hurts" so that no one ever wants to cut spending again. Truthfully, it needs to be cut 40% just so that we don't continue to saddle our kids with this immoral debt and interest.
Submitted by: Rudy on February 27, 2013
Comment: At a higher rank, we are PCSed much more now. We can never seem to settle. We would prefer to stay in one location for a lengthier amount of time. I understand that command positions change frequently, but can't we change within a Division if requested to prevent added monies being spent on moves? Husband has been PCSed 4 times in the last 4 yrs! And, we move again next year. This expense, to me, is utterly ridiculous!!!
Submitted by: Army wife on February 27, 2013
Comment: To those of you who keep asking "What about the congressmen and senators?", they are protected in the same manner us service members are (Stars and Stripes, Cover page, 26 FEB 2013). For those of you who keep blaming the other side of the aisle (Dems and Reps), both are guilty of the sequestration (Same Stars and Stripes paper). Service members are receiving the upper hand in this deal, so if you're part of those benefits, you should be grateful. This information is very informative - Thank you for clearing up the rumors.
Submitted by: Ben Rodriguez on February 27, 2013
Comment: Those of you blaming Congress and Repyblicans, it was your democrat prez that created the sequestration that he is now blaming Congress for. If he truly thought it was so horrible, he shouldn't have created it and stated that he would not bend on it.
Submitted by: Citizen on February 27, 2013
Comment: White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, who, on July 12, 2011, proposed a compulsory trigger that would go into effect if another agreement was not made on tax increases and/or budget cuts equal to or greater than the the debt ceiling increase by a future date. That's right kiddies...this stupidity is brought to you straight from the White House passed by a Republican Congress. Libs suck, Republicans suck, the end.
Submitted by: Politics make you stupid on February 27, 2013
Comment: How much $$ would be saved by retiring all chaplains and closing all base churches? Also reevaluate all disability claims and yank the ones that are bunk. (Disability for post partum depression? Get outta here with that nonsense)
Submitted by: Jimjam on February 27, 2013
Comment: Stop moving the military, what happened to real 'SUSTAINMENT' or 'STABILIZATION'??? Move service members pertaining only to the really SERIOUS key-essential positions,... Positions really needing to be filled. Otherwise, stop spending for every service member to move every 1,2,3,4 years! Have them stay for atleast 8-10 yrs if and whenever possible!
Submitted by: Lanakila on February 27, 2013
Comment: Will this have an impact on contract workers? If so, how?
Submitted by: Contract RN "Navy Wife" on February 26, 2013
Comment: will army soldiers deployed to kuwait be sent home?
Submitted by: Pearl on February 26, 2013
Comment: Rumor: Deployed troops are coming home due to cutbacks. False That is the biggest crap I have ever heard. This is in fact TRUE! I am a spouse of someone who is being sent home 2 months early due to cut backs. Another thing, the tricare, I don't know if anyone has noticed, there is already changes. What worries me. is the fact that I am living with a terminal cancer. My husband gave 22 years and this is how you thank us but providing the families with crappy coverage. I pray for our families, they deserve so much more than how we are treated.
Submitted by: AVNCAVWIFE on February 26, 2013
Comment: I have read several comments that have one side blaming the other. This doesn't solve anything. Senators, congressmen, the President were all voted to SERVE the public. If they truly wanted to serve the public, they would not be voting themselves raises and/or accepting raises. Let them take the pay cuts instead of the military families. Military families move often. Spouses don't have the option to get a good job because of the frequent moves. How frequent? My son is almost 2 years old. He has lived in 4 different states all because of permanent change of station. I had to give up my job in order to be with my husband. I have a Master of Science. If I do get a job, I have no retirement. Retirement is based on years of service. I can't stay in one job long enough. Unless I go for Federal Civil Service. Working as a Civilian I can maintain some sort of retirement. But this will decrease the likeliness of getting a civilian job. Childcare. Do you know how hard it is to sign up for childcare. There are waiting lists. My parents had to take care of my brothers kids for 3 months while they were on the waiting list. He works in the private sector. I don't have the option to have my parents, or anyone I have known for longer than 6 months to take care of my kids. Cutting childcare costs further just makes it that much more difficult. So again, I can't work because I can't get childcare. My point. When you cut the pay or benefits for military, you are making it more likely that more of them will need to be of food stamps, welfare, etc. They don't have the luxury of a spouse that can pick a few more hours to cover the decrease. WE give up a lot so that our spouses can defend your freedoms, and you tell that it is fair to cut our healthcare, our ability to go grocery shopping at the commissary or get medication we need? It's fair to cut available childcare? I once sat at the pharmacy on base for 3 hours to get medication for my son. I had to sit in that waiting room with a 1 year old that was running high fever to get antibiotics. 3 hours. After sitting for hours to even get to see the doctor in the first place. I have already needed formula for my baby, ran to the commissary to get it, and they were closed - it was Monday. I had to drive to the next town to the grocery store. Stop whining about who caused the problem. Stop pointing fingers at who supports the military and who doesn't. Congress needs to take a pay cut (if a military family can live below the poverty level, a congressman can make it on $100,000 a year), stop their whining, stop taking vacations/breaks and do their job and hammer out the budget.
Submitted by: Fed up Military Spouse on February 26, 2013
Comment: we hae orders and area clearance to go to japan this summer in june we have already sold alot of our things including one of our vehicles for this move my family has been under ALOT of stress we also have to put our house up for rent and have that in the works im just wondering if we are still going to be going because we have the area clearance or if they will change their minds last minute! he is in the marince corp
Submitted by: mom of 5 on February 26, 2013
Comment: Hope you Obama voters are satisfied. Despie what he says, the sequester was HIS idea and HE signed it into law. He has time to play golf with Tiger Woods but apparently not time to be a leader and save our country from this financial mess. I guess our chickens are coming home to roost.
Submitted by: Betsy on February 26, 2013
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