Shutdown’s Over – What’s Next for Military Families?
The confusion and stress caused by multiple budget crises over the past several years are taking their toll on our military community. Where is the recognition of the years of service and sacrifice service members, veterans, and their families have made over the past decade and in past wars? Where is the understanding of the risks to our Nation’s security as the budget issues cut training, maintenance, and support of the families of those who serve?
With the end of the government shutdown we must now focus again on how sequestration will devastate the Defense budget and hurt military families. The National Military Family Association had to suspend our campaign to #ENDSEQUESTRATION during the government shutdown. But the shutdown offered a glimpse for 16 days of what we have to look forward to if sequestration continues: reduced access to health care,cuts to family and installation support services, and delays in training for service members.
Military families, our battle continues. Service members and their families continue to serve both at home and in harm’s way. They do their job! We ask our Nation’s leaders to do theirs – leave politics aside and provide the funding and policies to allow our proud military to protect our Nation. Continuing budget resolutions are not the answer. The appropriations process needs to be rebooted and adhered to—we ask Congress to pass a Defense Appropriations bill now. Brinkmanship cannot be the order of the day because lurching from one crisis to the next makes thoughtful approaches to securing long term financial stability impossible.
For the past month, military families and all Americans have experienced a whirlwind of uncertainty after Congress failed to agree on a continuing resolution to fund the Federal government, resulting in a government shutdown. Military families wondered if they would receive a paycheck, if their scheduled moves would take place, if services would be available for their support. They witnessed the newly bereaved, those mourning the death of a loved one serving his/her country, receiving death benefits and funeral expenses from charities. And, after a public outcry caused Congress to pass the Pay Our Military Act and to restore death and burial benefits, military families realized that a piecemeal approach to addressing individual crises would still leave other groups suffering. For example, that piecemeal approach meant that members of two of the Uniformed Services, the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service, would not be paid during the shutdown.
The National Military Family Association is not alone in asserting the shutdown was an American disaster, affecting us all. Standard and Poors estimated the cost of the shutdown as at least $24 billion. Sadly, the legislative deal passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on October 17, will fund the government only until January 15 and extend the debt limit through February 7. So, the likelihood of another confrontation in the new year looms.
Sequestration will endanger readiness. It is not a painless way to end the deficit. We will not stand for it, military families cannot afford it.
Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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