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: Is it not enough my daughter sees her father for 2 weeks of the year?Is it not enough my nephew sees his father one month out of the year ? Because these men choose to defend our country everyday for not just there families, but yours as well! Yet when times get tough we cut the fat from the leanest areas! How well do you sleep promoting cuts and removing jobs from the men and women keeping you safe?
Submitted by: l.arrington on March 1, 2013
Comment: Please - no sequester for the sake of the army men and women who are the cream of the crop when it comes to moral attitudes, equality, and defense
Submitted by: Michael on March 1, 2013
Comment: Mandatory retirements for personnel past their time to retire. They are hanging on just to double dip into military funds. Lazy pencil pushers.
Submitted by: sandee on March 1, 2013
Comment: It would be catastrophic consequences of sequestration on Service Members and their families. Please pass a bill that will "STOP" the sequestration.
Submitted by: Bless on February 28, 2013
Comment: I agree with the majority of our fellow citizens. Cut The White Houses pay, and all of our congressman and womans pay, along with our local board and mayors. Take back OUR country middle class!
Submitted by: American on February 28, 2013
Comment: Maybe congress should be making pay cuts to their jobs insted of threatening my families welfare. Do they know how hard it is to have a good job when you have to move every 2-3 years?!?!?!? my husband makes the most income between us. If they cut his pay, we wont be able to survive! This just isn't fare. we were promised things when he enlisted, and now they want to take that away from us?!?!?! After 13 years?!?!?!? how is that right?!?!?!
Submitted by: ArmyWife/Veteran on February 28, 2013
Comment: The President is doing the one thing he promised he wouldn't do; he promised he would cut the spending on "pork-barrel" projects, yet somehow we have special interest committees growing exponentially. My solution: Mr President, Congress and the entire House of Representatives can forfeit pay and allowances. Better yet, since you haven't served in the military, you only need benefits while you are in office. Every single one of you has lost sight of the vision of our forefathers. Shame on you. Shame on every one of you. If it were up to be, you would all be fired.
Submitted by: ArmyNurse on February 28, 2013
Comment: Sequestration was Obama's idea he forgets to mention that. When he was provided with viable answers to the spending problem all he would do is blame every one else. Time to take a big boy pill and own the responsibility no one to blame but Barrack.
Submitted by: NJ conservative on February 28, 2013
Comment: Of course the President will slash the DOD and the livelihood of those serving just to preserve his precious entitlement programs for those who do nothing!
Submitted by: punkin on February 28, 2013
Comment: I recently joined the Maryland ANG to look for a better future for my family. My wife loose her job 2 months ago and I have not seen a pay rate in 5 year in my current employer. Now, when things are from bad to worst congress making the situation even more difficult for those we served and our families. We are the greatest nation on earth because we believe in democracy, freedom and justice. Congress with all your respect and the authority you represent do not choose the easiest way out listen to the people and the President to find another solution.
Submitted by: Charlie on February 28, 2013
Comment: We are in the dark! What will happent to my son's job because of this sequestration? We need to know what Congress is doing. It is the end of the month now and what have you done???? My son served with pride in Iraq. I have high respect for the military, and we need to keep our military in top shape, not go backwards and cut their budget.
Submitted by: joan on February 28, 2013
Comment: Save our soldiers and our families from suffering a serious tragedy during war time..the loss of our support systems, pay and benefits and our very healthcare and survival systems. A President and governement that truly cares for their nations finest would never let this happen!
Submitted by: aviva on February 27, 2013
Comment: It seems to me that a reduction is needed however, they need to choose wisely rather than cut back on programs that effect the families. They have sacrificed more than their share. Maybe the special privledges that are afforded the powers that be should be examined????? A little sacrifice on their portion should make up for it.
Submitted by: nana on February 27, 2013
Comment: where is this money going?
Submitted by: confused in IL on February 27, 2013
Comment: My son has proudly served & defended his nation. He came very close to losing his life for his country several times while serving in Afghanistan. He has a wife and infant child. I'm not only concerned for how this will affect him, but also the defense of our nation. Our enemies also know about this & are no doubt happily making plans. Just like in sports, if you don't defend the goal well, you will lose the game. But this isn't a game - it's our security! How about cut spending by cutting the pay of the president and all of congress by half, & getting rid of all their perks!!!!!
Submitted by: Military Mom on February 27, 2013
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