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: I heard they are trying to eliminate the Survive Benefit Plan. They will be raising the cost of the military health care program again. This is a concern to a retired person on a more fixed income.
Submitted by: Jayd on February 26, 2013
Comment: If you need someone to blame, blame me...if it helps you sleep better at night, blame me. Who is to blame? It's not JUST the Republicans or the Democrats or the Liberals or the POTUS or the Tea Party, or the Coffee Party or whichever party you lean towards or's every single one of us who did or didn’t vote or us who voted. We are all responsible for this mess we are in. It doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make it any easier. No matter who you are, what you do for a living, or where you live, sequestration, the yet unknown on 3/27 (the date the current continuing resolution ends) whether it is directly you or by someone you know who you will standby and watch suffer through it. Whose to my humble opinion we all are. So if you need to blame someone, blame me...I voted, I used my Constitutionally granted right to vote to use my voice by placing pen to paper...for better or worse, sequestration will directly hurt my family, it will hurt my community, my child(ren), and my again if you need to blame someone…you can blame me. I’m sorry.
Submitted by: blame me on February 26, 2013
Comment: This is outrageous! There is a better way, other than hurting the people that keep this country going with our dollars. If I could I would fire everyone and get a new senate and congress you can come to a compromise for the people. My husband and I are both work for the government. You are taking 40% of our combined income. Not fair. Furthermore, the congress and the Senate is not charged any furlough days. You should be ashamed!!
Submitted by: rosie on February 26, 2013
Comment: They say there is so much "wasteful spending," but I have seen absolutely no discussion about the retirement that the House and Senate gets for just a few years of work. How about THEIR salaries, retirement, and healthcare. When will that be discussed?
Submitted by: UTBly07 on February 26, 2013
Comment: We are hearing that NAF employees are being furloughed along with civilian government employees. We may be going to 32 hour weeks.
Submitted by: Martie on February 26, 2013
Comment: The military ALWAYS takes it in the shorts under Democrats. Sequester was Obama's idea. When a family runs short on funds we have to cut spending. SO DOES THE GOVERNMENT! Quit being a bunch of NIMBY's and man up. We're military for goodness' sake not a bunch of welfare sucking pantywaists.
Submitted by: Empress on February 26, 2013
Comment: Maybe Congress and the POTUS. Should stop taking vacations and get off their butts and work.
Submitted by: navy wife on February 26, 2013
Comment: I hope NMFA is making calls to Capitol Hill about this. Use your lobbying to stop the sequester! This will hurt our soldiers and families.
Submitted by: Can't you do anything? on February 26, 2013
Comment: I can't stomach the Republicans saying that taking care of our soldiers is "wasteful spending." A promise was made to our soldiers, sailors, marines, airman, coasties, and those civilians who help them do their jobs. Shame on Boehner and Cantor.
Submitted by: on February 26, 2013
Comment: I can't afford to take another pay cut because Eric Cantor thinks we shouldn't work for the government. I have sacrificed enough to take care of my patients because I love my wounded warriors and want them to recover. Too many doctor, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers will have to leave after this 20% pay cut. They will have to go back to the private sector where They can make more money and have some stability for their families. Unfortunately, that will make it harder for us to get appointments. All the best are talking about quitting. It makes me sick that Cantor and Beohner are determined to do this to us. Here is a video clip of him bragging that he got 98% of what the GOP wanted with this sequester bill.
Submitted by: As a therapist for veterans on February 26, 2013
Comment: Defence contractors how will it affect them helping the military Will congress and other political folks in DC be taking a pay cut also
Submitted by: bob on February 26, 2013
Comment: GOP tripled our debt with tax breaks for the wealthy and unfunded wars while driving the economy into the ground. President Obama paid down the debt to about half of what he inherited, so don't blame him. It is the LIBRALS who are fighting for our military to have healthcare, the GI Bill, housing and food allowances, training, etc., while the Tea Party and GOP call our military "government welfare queens." See The Wall Street Journal and National Review for the horrible things the GOP said about our soldiers.
Submitted by: GOP tripled our debt on February 26, 2013
Comment: I retired from the US Army on 01 June 2011, after 25 years. When I retired I took a job, as a civilian contractor doing what I did in the Army, taking of Soldiers and their Families. Back in 2008 the US Army signed an Community Covenant. Which is an Army program designed to foster and sustain effective state and community partnerships with the Army to improve the quality of life for Soldiers and their Families, both at their current duty stations and as they transfer to other states. It is a formal commitment of support by state and local communities to Soldiers and Families of the Army – Active, Guard and Reserve. How are we going to continue to assist our Soldiers and their Families, if we can't get a budget approved? I have roughly 550 Soldiers that are deployed? On 01 March, I won't have a job assisting our Reserve Soldiers or their Families, because my contract haven't been renewed! I wonder how much our military suicide rate will go up over the next few months, since we can't provide services to our Soldiers and their Families? How will they assistance on and off installation?
Submitted by: Retired MSG on February 26, 2013
Comment: I spent 25 years in the US Army and retired on 01 June 2011. While I was in I was promised that once I retired I would recieve my retirement check. I am also an 80% disabled Veteran. I received assistance from the local VRE to help me with my current job. I'm afraid that, that service might get cut as well. Once I retired I went to work for a civilian contractor working for the US Army Reserve as a Community Outreach Assistant. Which bascially means that I assist reserve Soldiers and their Families while the Soldier is either MOB or deployed. Back in 2008, the US Army signed the Army Community Covenant Program, Community Covenant is an Army program designed to foster and sustain effective state and community partnerships with the Army to improve the quality of life for Soldiers and their Families, both at their current duty stations and as they transfer to other states. It is a formal commitment of support by state and local communities to Soldiers and Families of the Army – Active, Guard and Reserve. My question, is this! How can our government order us to fight in 2 wars, promise us that we would be taken care for the rest of lives, promise our Soldiers and their Families that they would be taken care of. But when it comes time for Congress to help us, they can't get together and agree on the budget? I'm going to leave you with a few thoughts. Back in Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Someone asked General Schwarzkopf at the time how many Soldiers does he expect to loose? General Schwarzkopf said "One is, one too many"! My question, is this, since my contract runs out and I have 550 Soldiers that are currently MOB/Deployed what do you want me to tell the Soldiers and their Family members that I am no longer able to take care of them, because of our Congress can't get together and approve a budget. I wonder if the budget cuts, will increase or decrease the military suicide rate for this Fiscal Year??
Submitted by: Soloshadow120 on February 26, 2013
Comment: Worried Mom - This is a myth. Service members have access to food via an MRE or a hot meal. At some locations, hot meals were discontinued due to the logistics and service members will have MREs (which they can heat up).
Submitted by: The Association on February 26, 2013
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