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?


Thanks for submitting your feedback. If your comment is personal in nature, please email




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Comment: I understand that cuts have to be made somewhere, but to the men and women serving this country and their families?! That is inexcusable! Has congress taken a pay cut or even offered to cut their benefits? I hope things change soon, because, I am not a liberal, but things have to change across the board. The middle class can no longer afford to support the upper and lower class. Which this encompasses a large part of the military families serving for your country right now. Please get it together congress and do the job we elected you to do!!!!!! Sincerely, a disgruntled military wife
Submitted by: Millie23 on March 5, 2013
Comment: I'm surprised by how ignorant many of these comments are and it makes me rather sad that I share a common lifestyle with many of the military spouses replying. this is 1 of the very reasons why people should not be allowed to parents unless they are educated. I get so frustrated when people think I got to make dollars find a vacation to Hawaii for the president when he makes over 400,000 dollars a year that's the same as President Bush and his wife was an attorney previously you don't think they had money you don't think they still have that money let them spend the personal money on the personal items are vacations. second place people with higher ranking deserve more protection because they are more valued than those will a lower rank. this type of protection has existed since the beginning of time and social groups, tribes etc. I don't agree with the cutbacks especially since we are getting such a bad reputation all over the world now we're going to be looking weak and more vulnerable for an attack. however. people commenting have no idea what things cost and how are government spend money effectively. if you really wanted to understand where a good Jordy over money goes it's not necessarily to Congress paychecks but more towards programs design for nonprofits and education which is a waste. if something is a non profit they should not rely so much of federal dollars to function think about how many non profit organizations are out there in each 1 get money from federal funds a.k.a are tax dollars when their funding should come from only private donors. either way you look at it you are giving to charity when you pay taxes if no 1 knew this before please do the rest of America's favor. And educate yourself. in addition I had a education system overall fails in comparison to other countries who referred to us as stupid Americans with the right to say that considering how are education system is not excelling given how much money we put into education. 1 step that would help overall would be to eliminate public education and forcing parents to educate their own children and be responsible for their success into adulthood which would also require 1 parent to be at home while 1 works inadvertently creating more jobs because most families have both parents working outside the home. this would be good overall for America to get a better sense of family but more parents in charge of their children's future and eliminating a program that is not benefiting our country as a whole.
Submitted by: CommonSense on March 5, 2013
Comment: 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.
Submitted by: sarde on March 4, 2013
Comment: I do not understand how no paycuts are never mentioned for congress, for the president, for the house of representatives, mayors, maybe if we started there we could avoid slashing DOD funding, which could result in horrible things for the men and women who protect this country every day and their families, How do you all sleep at night knowing that you will get a pay check and some of you for the rest of your lives without having to work for it, yet justifying these cuts to the men and women who make it possible for you to have the job in the first place, and please don't try to fool me with the whole.."The president doesn't want this" It was his idea in the first place, All this will result in not only for the military but the country as a whole is another great depression, but maybe that is what the goal really is, to make the citizens of the United States Dependent on the government....It's a shame!
Submitted by: Lacie on March 4, 2013
Comment: Haha wait a minute. People actually believed the crap Obama was preaching? Wake me when it's 2017, can I start it yet??? #impeachobama
Submitted by: Ross on March 3, 2013
Comment: The first thing to cut should be all the tax dollars that go to other countries for various reasons, especially the ones that continue to support terrorism such as Egypt and Lybia. Also, before you touch our military or compromise our security, I would like to see high paying government jobs go, senators and congressmen, make them get a real job like the rest of us. The president should take a huge pay cut. Don't touch our military families or Veterans. Maybe it's time to make some cuts to people who are no longer in government jobs, but are getting a huge pension that could stand to be reduced.
Submitted by: madam X on March 2, 2013
Comment: I believe in freedom of speech so here it comes sure the cuts are going to affect the miltary thats what you get when the commander and chief has never served in the miltary but thats not his fault because alot of people voted for him.
Submitted by: Niceone on March 2, 2013
Comment: The first thing to cut should be all the tax dollars that go to other countries for various reasons, especially the ones that continue to support terrorism such as Egypt and Lybia. Also, before you touch our military or compromise our security, I would like to see high paying government jobs go, senators and congressmen. The president should take a huge pay cut. Don't touch our military families or Veterans. Maybe it's time to make some cuts to people who are no longer in a government jobs, but are getting a huge pension that could stand to be reduced.
Submitted by: on March 2, 2013
Comment: Make the cuts starting with the pay in DC cut the vactions for the obomas that cost 500,000 a pop how much did we spend on security for obamas wife to go to the grammys. stop the missuse of govt funds on things like govt privet cars in afghan my unit alone has 3 trucks 3 vans that only officers and E-7 and above can use we have feet and not to mention un used hummvees. they are trying to deny higher tenior sep pay to marines that have done their time but got in trouble during their first enlisment but let the re up 2x and want to cut them short just not to have to pay. Who pays for the president to go to Hawaii ? not out of his pocket Ive been on 4 deployments where is my free trip to Hawaii? I can rant for ever
Submitted by: nathan on March 2, 2013
Comment: Will this affect me if I join the navy..
Submitted by: george on March 2, 2013
Comment: It is a shame that the military who has protected this nation will be the ones who suffer what congress so studidly can't and don't care about fxing. All they care about is their what they can do to save their money and job. They all need to be put in prison for what they have and are doing to our Blessed country.
Submitted by: bear on March 2, 2013
Comment: I hold both parties responsible for this mess. If you people used taxpayers money to obtain your education i'm going to demand my money back.
Submitted by: Windwalker on March 2, 2013
Comment: At the installation level I don't understand why the government contracts out jobs to civilians that can be done by military personal they already pay. Instead they pay a civilian double to do the job. For example police, a lot of installations use civilian officers, does the military not have military police already on payroll that can do the job...
Submitted by: Momof3 on March 2, 2013
Comment: Please for the sake of military families around the world, do not do this! This impacts so many people. You are doing a very wrong thing by doing this, you're taking jobs and incomes from the families that suffer so that you can be safe! My husband serves so that someone you love doesn't have to but what you're doing makes his struggle and all the time apart worthless! Please rethink this! Consider someone other than yourselves and look at the families that will be impacted!
Submitted by: Liz on March 1, 2013
Comment: To the Members of Congress and the President if my husband loses his pay due the sequestration we will can potentially become homeless with 3 children. This makes me sick and saddened that you are all there sitting with your full bellies and fat bank accounts while Millions of Americans will be forced out of their jobs, homes, and American way of life.
Submitted by: Jenn on March 1, 2013
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