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 am already a victim of budget cuts. I had served 12 honorable years in the Navy when an anonymous board saw fit to cut my contract short and separate me. I have never been in trouble and completed 7 deployments with decorations. I now am at the mercy of a weak unemployment check and trying to find another career to support my family. I have been on the job hunt since June and no light at the end of this miserable and humiliating tunnel. I would wish this on no service member or their family. The effects of budget cuts is already being felt in the way of material and operational readiness. One would have to work the system just to get issued boots, or pay out of pocket. It's a small issue but the trickle affect has reached every corner of our military's readiness. Now there is a threat to mil families and programs? Perhaps programs like "exceptional family members" would be a good place to start? Sarcasm of course, but men and women in uniform already work in difficult conditions. Knowing our families are ok makes it manageable. To take a service members sense of ease away will only hurt productivity and discredit the service member. Please bring credit to the military families and the United States! No sequestration!
Submitted by: NavyVetByForceReduction on November 7, 2012
Comment: I'm working on this essay addressing this particular issue of the president cutting the military down in size and by budget cuts. I'm only 14 so i don't know really what he's doing specifically. if anyone could help it would be appreciated
Submitted by: JC on October 28, 2012
Comment: Please protect our military and the families that sacrifice for our freedoms.
Submitted by: MATTHEW on October 26, 2012
Comment: Sequestration is very dangerous for our country, especially in light of increasing terrorism against the U.S. Now is the time to INVEST in our national security by supporting both our dedicated armed forces the families who love and depend on them. P
Submitted by: Sailors Ridge on October 23, 2012
Comment: Please do we whatever is possible to avert sequestration. Our military and their families are entitled to pay and benefits and our country needs a strong military during this time in history.
Submitted by: camille on October 23, 2012
Comment: Very disheartening. The military is needed for this country, especially during this time. The families give up so much. It is about time congress does their job and stop all the bickering back and forth. So much in America is on line because they can't do their job properly. .
Submitted by: Kate on October 23, 2012
Comment: A strong military is probably more important than any time in recent years. If our military is cut we are going to be very vulnerable to attack and won't be able to help other countries that are not as strong as we are. Congress needs to get in gear cutting many of the frivolous spending that is being done. You should be able to figure out what those things are. We have to cut in households you can do it too and in a manner that will respect our military.
Submitted by: Janice on October 23, 2012
Comment: Stop sequestration NOW. Support our Military at full force. Obama must go. Stop contracts to civilian companies. Let the military do its own work.
Submitted by: October 23, 2012 on October 23, 2012
Comment: I shutter to think what America will become if the do not stop Sequestration. Obama needs to go. Please look into this my God what is happening to the America I knew???????
Submitted by: ginny on October 2, 2012
Comment: The government needs to take the money that they are giving to the middle east, while they are setting fire to our flags and give it to the DOD so the military members, their families and our country is taken care of as the US governments number one concern.
Submitted by: Nodrma8 on September 16, 2012
Comment: Why don't we cut the pay of this lackadaisical Congress? I can't see what they really do for our country anymore. I'm so sick of the military being at the forefront of every chopping block. Our soldiers puts their lives on the line everyday and this is how this once great nation repays them? Let's not cut anymore from the defense budget.. we can keep on down this road we are on and won't have the means of protecting our country. Military families suffer enough; sequestration isn't the answer.
Submitted by: Army wife/mom on August 8, 2012
Comment: Sequestration will irreparably harm the country. There should be other ways to trim the budget.
Submitted by: Sheila on August 5, 2012
Comment: As a matter of fact, why aren't the retirement packages and pay of the congressional officials on the table? How dare you threaten to hold the pay checks of those who, without question, go out in danger zones, to protect OUR America's. How dare you be so inconsiderate! Talk about having a stronger America, but you cut funding for head start, education, and ALL of the programs that give us the competitive edge. I am frustrated....GET IT TOGETHER and come back to the real world!
Submitted by: Pissed Military Spouse on July 24, 2012
Comment: I support the military coalition
Submitted by: Flo on July 21, 2012
Comment: This is beyond disheartening to know that when congress claims to support our military, it is just lip service as is most sentiment coming out of our nation's capital. My soldier sacrifices for the good of our country everyday. My children sacrifice by saying courageously saying good bye to their father for months at a time, by packing up and moving to honor the need of the army. I sacrifice by trying my best to be mom and dad, by struggling to create normalcy and stability for my family while knowing my husband is in a war zone. I look out my back yard and see grass that is up to my knees- the post is cutting costs by not mowing grass in common areas anymore. We can't go bowling on post during the week anymore bc it's closed due to budget cuts. No member of congress is sacrificing. Not their pay check, nor their lifestyle in anyway. But those who fight for our country are carrying that burden as well. Shameful.
Submitted by: Army wife on July 19, 2012
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