The Yellow Ribbon is Unraveling: Military Families Share the Pain of Sequestration
by Joyce Wessel Raezer, Executive Director
Military families are getting hit hard by the budget cuts caused by sequestration and support seems to be eroding on all sides. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands and launched a campaign to #EndSequestration. In partnership with Macho Spouse, Military.com, SpouseBUZZ, Military Spouse Magazine, and Military Partners and Family Coalition, we asked our supporters to send in pictures and stories showing how their military family is being affected by sequestration. To illustrate these effects, we compiled the stories and images into a book. This month, we will storm Capitol Hill and hand-deliver these books to each Member of Congress.
In August, military families got a little sequestration relief as the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that DoD civilian employee furloughs would be capped at six days rather than the planned 11. These furloughs had closed commissaries an extra day, made it more difficult for families to get health care appointments, cut family center hours, and would have closed DoD schools for several days in September.
Great news for the short-term, but what does it mean for long-term military family support?
Sequestration is a 10-year menace and none of the good news from last month will carry over once the new fiscal year starts on October 1. According to DoD, this summer’s furloughs that caused so much disruption saved the Department $1 billion. In 2014, DoD will have to find savings of $52 billion. How much pain for military families will come from future budget cuts?
Forget about furloughs–how many civilians will be laid off? How fast will a drawdown in the number of uniformed troops happen? How many airplanes will the Air Force be able to fly? What training will be cancelled? What family support facilities will close? What will the DoD and civilian schools educating military children have to cut? How long will we wait for health care appointments? Will schedules for Permanent Change of Station moves lengthen? What ships will be repaired? Already, the Navy has announced it will scrap, rather than repair, a nuclear submarine damaged by arson. Why? Navy officials blame a $4 billion shortfall in the shipbuilding account and other maintenance priorities deferred by sequestration.
Cuts totaling $52 billion in 2014 will hurt service members, families, and the communities where they live. Even though the 2013 furloughs will soon end, sequestration’s effects can still be seen in programs affected by hiring freezes, in reduced training for service members, and deferred maintenance of equipment and facilities.
We hope that our campaign will prompt Congress to do their jobs and #EndSequestration. Military families deserve better from our government. For continued updates please visit www.militaryfamily.org/sequestration.
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