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: For those who blame the Republicans, you obviously don't understand that it's the President's fault when it comes down to it. He's the one who TRIPLED our National Debt!!! Blame yourselves and the others for voting AGAIN for him. I will never understand why. Take off your blinders and see the truth, inform yourself with the facts, and not just what the left-sided media and President tells you. The GOP have ALWAYS been military-friendly. The past 2 Dem Presidents have had NO military experience whereas the previous 3+ Rep ones have. So, for those of you that voted for Obama, remember you voted for his "CHANGE" and his socialist ways. Too late to complain now, isn't it?
Submitted by: Don't Blame GOP on February 26, 2013
Comment: Why are the liberals doing this to our nation? They treat money like a crackhead treats crack. They are addicted and the more you give them the more they use. Why do liberal democrats want to raise taxes on the middle class? Why do they want the middle class to fail? When will they stop wasteful spending and produce a balanced budget like the Republicans have given them multiple times now?
Submitted by: Guv on February 26, 2013
Comment: congress needs to get off their butts and do the job they were elected to do maybe they should not get paid if they cann;t do their job
Submitted by: on February 26, 2013
Comment: I got an e-mail saying the army has quit serving breakfast due to funding being reduced, and families are sending food. Then I read that only a few bases in Afghanastan were involved and they quit serving HOT food, but cereal, fresh fruit and mres are available. What's the truth?
Submitted by: Woried Mom on February 26, 2013
Comment: Even Fox News admits the budget deficit is decreasing because our economy is growing. It went down from 1.4 trillion to 845 billion. So WHY are the Republicans doing this to us? I'll never vote Republican again. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/12/january-surplus-shrinks-2013-us-budget-deficit/.
Submitted by: Kathy from Hawaii on February 26, 2013
Comment: Our government is seriously going to let this happen? A mindless, idiotic, flatout stupid way of cutting the budget is not what we need. What is so difficult about finding the appropriate areas from which to cut our nation's budget? We spend nearly half a billion dollars on a Navy vessel that isn't going to be used. We spend money to improve the outdated and unnecessary M1 Abrams that NO ONE uses anymore. We spend money on the new F35 Fighter Jet that IS NOT needed. We've increased staff in the Joint Chiefs office by nearly 4x what we had not even 3 years ago. Sure, go ahead and spend money on worthless projects while letting the people who vote you into office suffer. "People shouldn't be afraid of their government. The government should be afraid of their people." -Alan Moore-
Submitted by: Matt on February 26, 2013
Comment: These things are outrageous but true. Our nations leaders are failing our Soldiers and Families. You must act! Call your congressman, write letters. They are taking these things from us because they do not understand what a LARGE voice we have. They are being told by the Pentagon that its OKAY, that we are OKAY to KEEP SACRIFICING! Well I for one have sacrificed enough. My children should never have to sacrifice but they do. Soldiers NOT getting breakfast because there is no funding for DFAC's, FRSA's losing their jobs, already having a hard time getting a medical appointment? too bad. CDC's losing funding and employees? OF COURSE....we do NOT matter to a nation that we defend. It is sickening.What would save our country is taking away all of the ENTITLEMENTS going to civilians getting FREE government cell phones, food stamps and Medicaid. Obamacare...and all of the other PROGRAMS for the POOR. Do you know that 78% of Military Families LIVE IN POVERTY? Do hard working young people deserve to miss meals and not be able to feed their children, while defending this country??? NO! But lazy people who don't WANT to work, can eat and have a cell phone. It is sickening.
Submitted by: JamieChapman on February 26, 2013
Comment: President Obama made three offers that gave the Republicans almost everything they wanted. Why won't they pass a bill to repeal the sequester? This doesn't HAVE to happen.
Submitted by: Bluebird on February 26, 2013
Comment: The GOP had a choice between raising taxes on billionaires or cutting government support for our military. They chose to balance the budget by breaking the back of government and our military--just like they promised. If you voted GOP, then this is your fault we will lose 20% of our doctors and nurses at the base hospital, our pharmacy hours cut 20%, our school year on base cut by up to two months due to unpaid furloughs of teachers, therapists who do rehab for wounded veterans cut, etc.
Submitted by: Economist on February 26, 2013
Comment: Is tuition assistance and the Post 9/11 GI Bill going away?
Submitted by: TJ on February 26, 2013
Comment: NAF employees who get furloughed can only be in the furlough status for 7 days (or 7 weeks of one day off each week) and then they will be let go as per NAF policy.
Submitted by: Cindy on February 26, 2013
Comment: Teachers are not year round employees, but they are threatening the full 22 days of furlough. We shouldn't be expected to take cuts in pay for the time we are not in pay status (summer). We are contracted for a set number of days. We are not paid for the summer, two weeks at Christmas or spring break. Has this been considered?
Submitted by: sg76 on February 26, 2013
Comment: I know that the AIr Force allows homesteading. Wouldn't this help the military save money if the other branches extended PCS's? There could be a qualification list they have to meet but it's an option. I just think it costs so much to make our milkitary move every 2-3 years, why can't they have the option of staying for longer tours IF they can prove that they are valuable to the unit that they are with? Especially military members with children attending school.
Submitted by: Rachel & Matt on February 26, 2013
Comment: What is the status of Tricare for Life?
Submitted by: Bilbo on February 26, 2013
Comment: Civilians who work on base are VERY worried about their jobs. Cutting their pay 20 percent will certainly hurt them and their families. Also, medical care is critical to those who have ALREADY served, and it is VERY hurtful to see money going to other countries when this one is in such bad shape!
Submitted by: Retired E7's Wife on February 26, 2013
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