Sequestration: What Does It Mean For Military Families?


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. DoD has not yet announced its plan for school level furloughs for either the end of the current school year or the beginning of the next school years. 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 May. 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: Why is it that our soilders are over seas risking their lives for us all and yet they still have to pay for their medical treatments and medicine. For example radition exposure. The soilders have to pay for the meds and treatments or they die. Is this how these men should be treated after they risk their lives on a daily basis to serve their country. It is erong the government needs to do something about it.
Submitted by: mommat on April 17, 2014
Comment: Wish the politicians could see what this is doing to the families willing to serve for our country. The military doesn't care as long as they reduce the ranks. My daughter's family is going on welfare because the 8 year Marine is no longer eligible for re-enlistment. Makes me want to go out and vote..just not sure who really cares..oh wait, they just want THEIR careers and screw everyone else
Submitted by: military family going on welfare on March 28, 2013
Comment: I'm 15 years old, and my mother has been in the Air Force for about 17 years now. My mother, my father, and my step-father have all served in the Air Force. I've been a military brat all my life, so I know how it all goes. About a month ago, she got back from a year long remote tour in Bahrain, where she was going on TDYs every month all over the Middle East. I've always been engaged in politics, so I'd been wanting to read up on the sequester and how it effects the military, and the country in general. When I read the Deployment section of this article, I couldn't believe it. I'm so lucky to have my mother home on time without any delays. I'll be praying for all the families who have been more severely affected by the sequester and Congress's incompetence to do their ONE job. Have a nice day.
Submitted by: Air Force Daughter on March 26, 2013
Comment: I am the wife of a US Army veteran. He is 100% service connected disabled veteran. We have 3 children. He draws $3082 a month. We don't qualify for any other type of assistance. He makes too much money for food stamps. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for that money. However if they cut veterans pay, what will we do? All the financial analystists say that you need to have at least 6 months salary in savings for emergencies. How are we supposed to save on that kind of budget? I can't work outside of the home because I have to take care of our 3 small children and my disabled husband. We are in a bad position. We have had one cost of living adjustment in the past 4 years. Let me assure you, our cost of living has gone up way more than the tiny raise my husband got this year. When our kids get sick and we need extra money for their doctor co-pay or for medicine, we don't have a job that we can ask for extra hours to help compensate. On top of this, my husbands medicine co-pay has gone from $5 for generic to $13 on October 1. Then on Feb. 1, that same medicine went up to $17 per prescription. On $3082 a month, we scrape every penny. All these things make a difference. I am not asking for a handout from anybody. I am asking that our veterans and military pay not be the first things cut whenever congress and our president can't agree on a budget. When I tell people my husband is retired Army, the first thing anyone says is "y'all are doing good for yourselves". Yes, if he had not gotten hurt and could have served his entire 20 years, we would be making good money. However, he was only an E-3 when he became disabled. Therefore, his pay grade stopped at an E-3. It just makes me angry that these heros that gave everything for our country to keep me as well as our president safe and yet they are the very ones being attacked by that very president they vowed to protect with their lives. Unfair to say the least.
Submitted by: young veterans wife on March 17, 2013
Comment: my name is colby ginn i am 17 years old and a few weeks ago i signed on (and swore in with the national guard,for the educational benefits (tuition assistance)..... my mother always wanted me to go to collage and now with the sequestration in action this goal seems further and ever.
Submitted by: Colby Ginn on March 16, 2013
Comment: Dear Congress, I'm impressed with your stupidity. Instead of helping the men and women that protect your rights. You make life harder for them. I don't know if you need more money to cushion your lazy asses. But taking money from the military is not the way to do it. I'm sure that $700 restaurant bill for your date or her weekly shopping spree is enough reason for you. But we don't think so, actually its the exact opposite. Now the military is hoping for your budget cuts, and trust me when I say the military has a much louder voice. So be prepared if you don't fix your mistakes, "we, the people will." Thank You for you time and consideration.
Submitted by: For The People on March 14, 2013
Comment: Congress, sequester your pay check and perks to see how you like it. Your salary is my taxpayer money.
Submitted by: Minerva Rivera on March 12, 2013
Comment: I do not see why budget cuts aren't made to politicians salaries before budget cuts are made to military personnel and their families. After all, while politicians are sitting on their asses passing bills that only do them good, us military families are suffering losses too great to overcome. Something has to be done soon, and by soon, I mean now.
Submitted by: newairforcewife13 on March 12, 2013
Comment: Dear Elected Officials Recently you chose not to compromise on the National Budget. I would hope you are aware of the specific consequences these cuts will have on our military. Never mind what these cuts will have on National Security. What about the brave men and women we have sent to the far corners of the earth to protect our Nation? Do you know how these cuts affect each and every one of them? I can only imagine what it must feel like to soldier who was scheduled to return to home after serving in a war zone only to be told he/she cannot because them military cannot transport them due to our elected officials unwillingness to summon the courage to stand up for what is right because of political affiliation. So go home tonight and enjoy the comfort and freedom our forces have given you.
Submitted by: Sleeper on March 11, 2013
Comment: Sarah***....Of course they all do, right? I never said anything about welfare. It's a lose lose situation for us taxpayers, once they ARE out, then we have to pay their big pensions. Not welfare, just USERS!! Wake up, they do exist.
Submitted by: sarde on March 11, 2013
Comment: What about healthy people who collect government disability, when they are perfectly able to get out and find a job. These people need to be caught and let's sequester them!! Obama, sometimes you are just too easy.
Submitted by: whistleblower on March 11, 2013
Comment: We need our military more then we need a fancy government. Cut the out Americas greedy Congress 1st. Stop Senators pension not our forces!! Go back to the basics boys & girls. Review your 5th grade American history & learn from those who made this country great. Leave our military. We are a young country & haven't got a chance at this rate.
Submitted by: on March 10, 2013
Comment: Dear CommonSense before you start telling people to get an education, check your own comment for errors. The last time I checked "1" was not a substitue for "first" or "one". Lastly I can only assume that you are a spouse of a higher ranking individual, probably an officer which entitles you to only that, title of military spouse. Your spouse's rank does not give you any rank or pull. Please remember that at one point your spouse was at the less valuable rank at one point too. Before you lay your fingers on a keyboard have someone proof read what you want to post. Here is a saying for you, learn it, live it, remember it: "Don't bite the hand that salutes you." Suffer in Silence
Submitted by: SoldierTink on March 10, 2013
Comment: Sarde: Young strong and willing active duty should keep their jobs and salaries. It's these old double dippers that need to GO!! Let them see what the real world is all about and stop sucking off Uncle Sam. *** Are you kidding me? Military don't suck off of Uncle Sam, they do the work, they make the sacrifices and they have earned every single bit of what they get. That was a seriously ignorant thing to say, making a comparison between military and welfare.
Submitted by: Sarah on March 9, 2013
Comment: Am I reading this point correctly:The President can exclude military personnel accounts, which includes about one-third of the defense budget, from sequestration. Does this mean that the president could have exempted military pay, but chose not to?
Submitted by: confused on March 8, 2013
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