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 President has the power to keep military personel from being impacted. Shield them and let the Sequestration take affect.
Submitted by: Roger B on February 21, 2013
Comment: It seems stragnge that Congress and the President would target DoD when Medicare and Social Security seem to be the looming danger of fiscal deficit. These grown men and women whom we have elected seem to cannot pontificate ideas to paper and come to a resolution. Our great nation is in danger if we dont fire all of these politicians and hire new folks that will take their jobs seriously and work for the people.
Submitted by: NavyGuy@3 on February 20, 2013
Comment: Guess what folks...the money has to come from somewhere and defense is one of the top three line items on the budget. I know this site tugs at everyone's heart strings because it is a site devoted to military families, but as a taxpayer, businessman and former officer, we have to face the harsh reality that we kind keep buying what we can't afford. I am well aware of the wasteful spending that the military engages in (useless toys, benchmark accounting, cushy assignments, frivolous TDY). Instead of crucifying Congress and the Administration for doing their job of managing OUR money. Why don't you hold senior military leadership accountable for what they spend. If there was better accountability for what is spent, I bet we could cut the defense budget in half and not impact combat effectiveness. There would just be a lot less unnecessary field grade/flag officers and E-8/E-9s, OPD/NCOPD, and TDYs that contribute nothing to our warfighting capability.
Submitted by: Eric on February 20, 2013
Comment: NO sequestration!!! I live in the Hampton Roads area...the impact is already being felt just under the threat of sequestration.....Work together...figure it OUT!!
Submitted by: SueD on February 20, 2013
Comment: 13%. The military accounts for a mere THIRTEEN percent of the spending in washington, yet is expected to shoulder 50% of the cost burden while protecting 100% of our citizens and also ensure world security and peace. The math doesnt add up. Half of 1%, thats the number of Americans that have signed in and served in the past ten years. But this country thinks it can wiggle its way out of the defict by slashing the benifits and retirement of half of 1% of its citizens? Clearly we do not have an excess of mathmeticians in the white house. Well, America seems to be lifting its leg and raining all over veterans and their families. When China and North Korea shut down the power grids and send in the missiles, lets see how this country will react. Because whats left of the decimated military will too busy wringing all the "rain" out our hair and clothes to be able to do much to stop it.
Submitted by: Soon2BWong or Woo on February 20, 2013
Comment: The public doesn't really care about the military and it's not really their fault. They honestly don't see the military as something important to them. Wars have been fought away from American soil. The only attack on 9/11 was really the only true issue the majority of Americans felt. Less than 1 percent of the population has any contact with the military, but budget implications are far more substantial. States like Virginia are already poised for certain and swift decrements to their states' budgets. Military funding has been huge for decades and that money does trickle into local economies everywhere there is a military base or post. The other issues is the military's inability to figure out what is important. Leaders have been arguing for more people for so long that they are unable to decide how to cut the budget. Anyone in any business knows that the only way to truly realize savings is to reduce the size and scope of the job. In short, the military will need to cut personnel or else they risk the "hollow force." A large group of people standing around without anything to do or anything to do it with. It will be similar to the Cold War armies of the USSR. We're heading for dark times given our apparent inability to choose the logical paths and an ineffective national leadership. There has been so much political philosophy that the leaders are no longer thinkers. They vote according to party lines instead of reason. We don't need to vote for good people any longer because they seem unable to separate their political affiliation for the benefit of the nation they serve. Sequestration itself is not the problem. It is the national conscious of those who have grown accustomed to living beyond their means and who are unwilling to do the necessary work to solve their predicament. The way ahead is to write Congress and the White House with specific plans that include coming together as Americans to pay off the debt and to take care of only the critical issues of the nation. Those include safety, security, and the pursuit of happiness. Now is the time to come together and work! Demand more from your elected officials.
Submitted by: Jim Bob on February 20, 2013
Comment: Congress needs to go to the mat on this issue. The sequestration was the brainchild of the POTUS. He knew the conservatives would not want cuts in defense, certainly not with an ax. All cuts must be surgical and not affect military families or defense. Do you think the administration will protect the country and the families? Send a letter to the president on how his leadership by bullying, by default, by empty rhetoric does not work.
Submitted by: askmieke on February 19, 2013
Comment: This is so unfair to put this sequestration thru that will affect military peronnel and families. Because the congress and political big-wigs can't get their acts together the military will pay for their lack of responsibility. Do you have any idea how this affects military families? Cutting their pays for so long not only is irresponsible but a travesty to those who serve this country. What is wrong withy ou people? Find some guts and fix this problem.
Submitted by: sapphire on February 18, 2013
Comment: We should not hurt the men and women who serve to protect you and your families. We need to cut welfare and unnecessary domestic spending.
Submitted by: Andy on February 17, 2013
Comment: Sequestration will severely damage not only the military, but our entire country as a whole. Turning the most powerful military into a second rate force and would openly invite aggression. The forced manpower downsizing would flood the already crippled economy, with veterans unable to find work. Please do what you must to find other ways to decrease our debt. Military cuts are not the answer.
Submitted by: Lorenzo R on February 16, 2013
Comment: This is not a way to thank our military for their service and help, and would contribute to increasing the already disastrous unemployment levels.
Submitted by: Pam on February 16, 2013
Comment: I feel so bad for the members of the military and their families and how this can directly affect them. In short, there is an evil purpose for this....the POTUS WANTS to weaken this country and the strong branches of military. What better way then to cut their pay. It can financially devastate those who serve now and will surely discourage any one else from joining in the future. He has plans for this great nation of ours and NONE of them are good. Remember what we heard his say to Putin's second man on a microphone he thought had been shut off. "When I get in for my second term, I will have more freedom/leverage." He hates America, sorry it is just way too obvious.
Submitted by: D on February 16, 2013
Comment: I am a military member. My spouse is a military member. I have friends and family who are in the military. What you do or fail to do will be closely monitored. Its not the effects at the installation levels I am worried about. I am worried for all my brothers and sisters that will do what they are ordered to do and willingly go to war underprepared,underarmed, and overwhelmed. Please do not take this lightly.
Submitted by: Swartz on February 16, 2013
Comment: Don't cut our military protection. There are to many Our children and families need protecting.
Submitted by: on February 15, 2013
Comment: My son 2Lt Gregory R. Herr is a ROTC graduate from PSU, completed LDAC and went directly to South Korea. I just received 30 text messages from him and he is very upset. His military pay was just reduced by 50% which is completely unfair. I don’t know how the President and our leaders expect to encourage young men & women to volunteer their lives to the military with such low pay. Greg was so excited about his future and now???
Submitted by: Sharron M. Herr on February 15, 2013
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