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: With budget cuts, its not just current soldiers that are seeing these cuts; it is spilling over to the future soldiers we are training. How can we effectively do our jobs if we don't have the proper amount of equipment? Not only is this frustrating, this is counterproductive.
Submitted by: JJ on February 14, 2013
Comment: Where are the 200,000 people who will be laid off supposed to go? How will this help our economy?
Submitted by: Anna on February 12, 2013
Comment: My son is a pilot and already does not get the flying time he needs. He is deploying in 2 months. Can you tell me he's safe with little flying time?
Submitted by: Mary on February 12, 2013
Comment: My husband has served for 14 years in the Marine Corps and deployed around the world in service to our country. He has missed countless birthdays and family gatherings because he believes in his sacrifice. I am terrified he will be forced out of the military early and lose the benefits for which he has sacrificed so much. Military families are the LAST people who should be affected by this. Our service men and women make very little money for the jobs they already do! To turn our backs on those who have sacrificed their very lives would be an utter disgrace. Please do not let this happen!!!
Submitted by: Marine Wife on February 9, 2013
Comment: I'm a Navy retiree and have been since 1996, if my retirement pay and Va compensation are Sequestered I will certainly be out on the streets homeless exactly one month to the day if this does happen. I am a retired E-5 who like other current military retires in the enlisted ranks E-5 to E-7 do not make a whole lot in retirement income. I do have a job but the company I work for will only let me have no more than 24 hours a week, I have put in for a request to increase my hours & pay but nothing can be done due to being out of work due to an illness. I worked really hard to earn my retirement pay and know the threat of having it taken will be very devastating, so all congress get off you okoles and work together to get this financial mess fixed
Submitted by: David on February 6, 2013
Comment: Please do not let this happen to our military!! The defense of this country is the most important thing we have. Do not let the military suffer cuts!!
Submitted by: MYat97 on February 6, 2013
Comment: This is my first tour with the military I proudly signed up with my United States Navy on January 26, 2009. I have been on three deployments two desert and one green. I have seen the youngest Seabee to the most saltiest of Seabees being slowly demoralized by the budget cuts i.e. PTS. Now we are facing a possible sequestration?! Come on we can only take some much, and as someone stated before the only solice that we had to keep us motivated was knowing that our families were being taken care of. The government cannot be this blinded by the bottom line! It will cause a possible reflux here at home for sure. I say "NO" to sequestration!
Submitted by: Seabee on February 4, 2013
Comment: I for one don't agree with this act. I understand the concept. But I don't agree with the actions being taken to solve it ..I witnessed two sergeants who've served the military for over 12 a piece be given a lump sum to separate themselves from the army. Its cruel n I'm starting to question is this the congress that slept cozy in there beds when the rest of the military members have lost lives?
Submitted by: bgar808 on February 2, 2013
Comment: I think our Government has messed up priorities. Hopefully this doesn't weaken our domestic defenses. Someday, probably not this generation or even the next, but someday war will come to US soil and maybe people will see why we spend so much money keeping the fight overseas.
Submitted by: SGT.sargent on January 31, 2013
Comment: I am sick and tired of our elected leaders committing terrorism - fiscal terrorism - against the people who serve this wonderful nation by threatening to shut off our pay. No Commander or Chief would ever place his people in unnecessary harm, and never would a Commander or Chief place a soldier or sailors family in harms way. Barrack Obama does not deserve the title of Commander in Chief. Our political leaders need to be replaced with new leaders who look out for us and not use us as pawns and tools for political gain. I cannot fathom the risk our President has introduced to our forces. Private Smith or Seaman Smith have enough to worry about and now they have to think about their families and trying to make ends meet. Thanks Mr. President!
Submitted by: ActiveDutyCWO4 on January 25, 2013
Comment: Please do not let sequestration happen to our military. Keep our military functional and ready.
Submitted by: TCHNOMO on January 5, 2013
Comment: I read with great delight that the pending sequestration could unltimately results in the drastic reduction of weapons systems and even the reduction of military personnel. If 75 % of the entire military industrial complex were eliminated we would still be one the most armed and militaristic nations on this planet. Sequestration can lead to greater prosperity of the individual citizen in this country. Let's get on with it! I for one will wholeheartedly support sequestration!
Submitted by: ducky on January 3, 2013
Comment: I cannot believe we have not solved the fiscal cliff issues and the impact on my family would be catastrophic. Please find the common sense to make a deal and meet in the middle and compromise.
Submitted by: George on December 11, 2012
Comment: Read the comment submitted by: NavyVet-Marine Mom on July 18, 2012 It is spot on. In addition to members of Congress, all of their staffers inside the Beltway reap priviledges as well. Why should a Representative or Senator rate healthcare for one term? They don't get shot at nearly as often as service memebers do, and we have to do twenty years to have healthcare for life. They care we get (which I am thankful is free) is substandard. You get what you pay for. When we do get helathcare (through the VA) after retirement, it is second rate also. I fully intend to work until I have a foot in the grave. I have no intention of "retiring" when I am done with military service. I do agree with cutting certain acquisition programs and reducing their size in some cases. Why do we need three different types of load bearing equipment in ten years timeframe? STOP buying new equipment and provide the proper training and support for what we already have. Teach the military how to repair and maintain the equipment rather than replacing things so frequently. DO NOT sequester the military personnel budget!!
Submitted by: on December 4, 2012
Comment: It's obvious to me that Obama wants to cut our military to pre WWI level partially through sequestration. He is America’s only ever ideologist president; it’s always my way or the highway. He has rammed down our throats Obama care, amnesty for illegal immigrants, etc. I believe he will try to ram sequestration down our throats also. Please for the future of our country don’t let sequestration pass.
Submitted by: Mike on November 12, 2012
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