An Open Letter to our Nation’s Leaders

Military families have proven their courage and resilience over the past 12 years of war, as they have in past conflicts. It is harder for them to show that same strength and resilience when faced with the challenges and uncertainties caused by the Government shutdown.

The National Military Family Association and the military families we serve are grateful for the quick action on the Pay Our Military Act, which ensures that service members will receive their full pay and allowances. The Act also exempted many Department of Defense civilian employees from furlough, allowing them to provide crucial programs and services in support of military families. Unfortunately, while it covered the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the act did not authorize pay for members of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Public Health Service (PHS). Ending the shutdown would ensure that all members of the seven Uniformed Services receive the pay they earn each day in service to our Nation.

But we cannot continue to address this budget impasse with piecemeal efforts. Last week, the families of fallen service members were told they must rely on donations from generous charities to bury their dead until appropriate legislation was passed. But what of other surviving families of this war and previous wars who worry about receiving their monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs? What of military and veteran families who are relying on GI bill payments that may not show up in time to pay tuition or rent? How will the disabled veteran and his/her family pay their bills?

The absence of a Defense appropriations bill poses a threat to the long-term readiness of service members and families as training has been curtailed, moves have been postponed or cancelled, and the viability of future military programs is threatened. Following so closely on cuts resulting from several years of continuing resolutions and sequestration, this shutdown and the potential that the debt ceiling will not be raised are catastrophic blows.

Military families, like many of their civilian neighbors, rely on a variety of programs and services funded with Federal funds. The shutdown of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will affect many young military families who rely on this assistance. Public schools educating large numbers of military children face the loss of much-needed Impact Aid funds if the shutdown continues. Military families suffer with America’s families who depend on these and other essential Federal programs.

Service members continue to deploy and fight on behalf of our Nation. They and their families need the assurance that the services they rely on will continue to be available in order to ensure their readiness. We ask you to create a permanent fix to these budget problems, not a temporary band-aid or  a budget deal that will need to be rehashed in future months or years.

Military families need Appropriation bills passed and signed into law now! We ask you to end the government shutdown and reassure military families that they continue to have the Nation’s support.

The National Military Family Association is the only national organization whose sole focus is the military family and whose goal is to influence the development and implementation of policies that will improve the lives of the families of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more than 40 years, its staff and volunteers, comprised mostly of military family members, have built a reputation for being the leading experts on military family issues.

Sincerely,

Mary Scott Signature

 

Mary T. Scott
Chairman, Board of Governors

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