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: The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971 - before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land - all because of public pressure. Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to SHARE this on Facebook or forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around. Congressional Reform Act of 2012 1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office. 2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose. 3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do. 4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%. 5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people. 6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people. 7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women. Congress made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.
Submitted by: Anonymous on February 26, 2013
Comment: We NEED to cut about 10 times what the sequester does!!! Time to tighten our belts all around. Having said that - your friendly government - Obama - is using this as a tool to scare you into more taxes!! Do you remember the ads of grandma falling over the cliff to get you to stand behind Obamacare? Well here it comes and it ain't gonna be anything like they promised - surprise, surprise
Submitted by: not believing on February 26, 2013
Comment: Get rid of the govt. personnel that sits on their butts and double dips out of US govt. funds. Mandatory retirement age should take place, I feel. I know so many old farts who need to off these expensive military bases that WE the taxpayers are paying for.
Submitted by: sammy on February 26, 2013
Comment: How woudl these cuts affect dependents?
Submitted by: Homeboy Jesus on February 26, 2013
Comment: My son was told yesterday that they were separating him due to this sequestration issue. Why doesn't the government cut spending by putting a squelch on these deadbeat mothers who collect all this free money due to pumping out one baby after another. How is it that they also get these huge check back come tax time when they didn't even pay in that much in taxes??? If every mother had to pay back the government for all the freebies they received all year long just think what a dent that would take out of a sagging budget? The AF is my son's life and he loves it! He fought hard to be there when he could have gotten out due to medical condition. Went thru brutal survival training... etc... and now you wanna take away his livelihood because you people in Washington do not know how to keep our dollars straight! Sickens and disgusts me that you would rather put our country in peril due to a scaled down Military rather then risk making these mothers actually go out and work for a living!!!!
Submitted by: S Knight on February 26, 2013
Comment: Makes me want to denounce 22 years of service to an ungrateful country.
Submitted by: blueraye on February 26, 2013
Comment: Dear Paul and ill-informed others, President Obama is trying to protect military families from being affected. We should end tax loopholes which profit only the uber rich and use these funds to take care of every day Americans and the programs that enhance our lives. If you are informed on the subject matter, you'll see this is NOT the president's fault. In fact, it is the wealthy and out-of-touch Republicans (I wish I could say members of both parties, but it is not true in this circumstance) that are willing to allow America's families - military families.
Submitted by: Britt on February 26, 2013
Comment: honestly, I believe that ALL members of the political world in DC should take a pay cut, try living on social security that the elderly have to struggle to live on...I cannot tell you how incompetent I see all of you. The military!!! without them, you wouldn't be sitting in that fancy chair of yours, driving that car and living in 2 homes, I barely can afford one. Lest we not forget who put you into office, we the little people that work for a living and feel that there is honesty still left somewhere in the country of ours. take a pay cut, not just Congress, but the Senate, the ''Administration''. wouldn't that be a rather large cut in the budget. Quit 'making' up jobs that are of no use. Your military, my military...have some respect for those that are defending you or is that too much to ask. Maybe you should try to live on an enlisted members pay for six years...good luck.
Submitted by: dj on February 25, 2013
Comment: I find it completely irresponsible and lacking in judgement that our government has gotten to this point. The fact that our men and women who protect our government officials, our citizens and our families are being "threatened" financially is horrible. Lets cut the about cutting the overly priced salaries of the congressmen and presidents???
Submitted by: marinewifey on February 25, 2013
Comment: I am a agent orange widow and depend on my Dic and Tricare each month. Please don't force me onto the welfare rolls.
Submitted by: Jim's widow on February 24, 2013
Comment: inpeanch the pres. now
Submitted by: paul on February 23, 2013
Comment: Let sequestration happen
Submitted by: Billy on February 21, 2013
Comment: If they want to "sequester funds", why don't they "sequester" their OWN salaries? Let's add up how much is spent in the salaries alone for the white house employees and congress.
Submitted by: unbelievable on February 21, 2013
Comment: Where is (and to the republic), meaning electing the ones you trust will make the correct decision. What is happening. Why sequestration. Help
Submitted by: Peppie on February 21, 2013
Comment: Congress dose not care about the military and there family. This just sad that are hard working men and women in the military are going through this. This is just sad
Submitted by: D.wilson on February 21, 2013
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