Sequestration Facts Without the Fiction: How Military Families Will Be Affected

tight budget

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
Deployments
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.

Deployments 

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. 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. The Army reinstated their TA program on April 9 for the rest of the FY13. The Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard are still working on the details of how to reinstate the program.

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: On August 6, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Defense Department’s updated furlough strategy. DoD civilians will be furloughed 6 days instead of 11 days as announced in May. As outlined in his updated memorandum, Secretary Hagel said the Services have been able to reduce furlough days and make modest improvements in training and readiness. However, military readiness remains degraded as we head towards budget uncertainties of FY14.

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: Fact: On August 6, DoD announced that DoDEA school personnel will no longer be furloughed. For additional information about the impact of sequestration on DoDEA schools, visit their website.

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: On July 3, Army Child, Youth, and School (CYS) Services announced new policies for families impacted by furloughs who have children enrolled in Army child care. Families affected by furloughs may request a temporary recalculation of their Total Family Income (TFI). Depending on the furlough’s impact on family income, families may be charged a lower monthly rate for child care. Alternatively, families may choose to remove their children from child care on furlough days and receive a 20% monthly discount on their child care fees.

Commissaries and Exchanges 

Fact: The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) announced on August 7 that commissaries will return to normal hours the week of August 18 – 24, 2013. You can check your local commissary’s schedule by going to www.commissaries.com 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?

 

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Items 1 - 15 of 27  12Next
Comment: Why haven't you addressed the 2.2 billion/million(?) cut to the commissaries subsidies?
Submitted by: Donald51 on December 16, 2014
Comment: Why aren't we cutting back on aid to the world bank like 95 billion per year, and aaid to whomever, instead of active duty and retired veterans. Without them and their families, there WOULD BE No AMERICA , and no podium or desk jobs. All members of the American military are heros loaned to all of us from Heaven on TDY. Face it Washington and world, The spirit of every American who has put on an American military uniform in the history of our great country is watching YOU.………
Submitted by: pat on August 22, 2014
Comment: The community pool at Hill AFB is closed, leaving families and kids without that valuable summer experience. But they are open at Bolling AFB...seems totally unfair. Is the brass getting benefits that the rest don't have access to? As military brat, I know how important base pools and such are for adjusting to moves and military life, not to mention exercise, swim lessons and Red cross lessons, swim team etc.
Submitted by: CGoss on June 12, 2014
Comment: I too have orders with a report date of 1 Dec. While I was given clearing papers, transpo can't do anything for me regarding my household goods - they say they have the AF memo for funding, but nothing yet from the Army. Does anyone know if the Army is planning issuing guidance (by way of a ALARACT or something)?
Submitted by: Soldier Girl on October 18, 2013
Comment: I have orders to PCS to Japan but they won't cut then until the 2014 fiscal budget is awarded. Does anybody know when that may be? My RNLTD is 19 Dec 2013, and I have a projected departure date of 1 Dec. Any information will be greatly appreciated!
Submitted by: family man on October 17, 2013
Comment: Joey, If the family was on orders to go overseas, the Air Force will fly them back to the United States and move their belongings to where they want, either their home of record or their new location.
Submitted by: The Association on August 19, 2013
Comment: I will be separating from the air force in may of 2014. I recently heard that the Air Force may make me pay for my family to move back home. Is there any truth to that? I wouldnt think that would be true because I'm stationed overseas and the military has an obligation to send you atleast to your home of record.
Submitted by: Joey on August 18, 2013
Comment: Bill, you asked what the big deal is about sequestration because it seems like it's only a budget increase of 2% instead of 4%; however, sequestration is far more than that. Sequestration cut $500 million from the DoD Budget on top of the cuts that were coming already. Therefore the programs, employees, and benefits of the service members feel the effects. Aside from every civilian employee losing 20% of their pay for 3-4 months (imagine that happening to you or any other salaried employee), military families have to deal with the uncertainty of where they will be in 3-6 months or a year or more down the line. Tens of thousands of families are serving overseas, in remote locations such as Qatar, Turkey, South Korea, Guam, Africa, and more. They go there with the understanding that it will only be for a year or two then that sacrifice will be over and they'll be able to move on somewhere else. The cuts of sequestration have families like Chris who posted here on March 31, 2013 wondering if they'll be homeless due to the unstable situation this has created. Families like mine who live in Turkey, live less than 90 miles from Syria and other "unstable" regions, are supposed to have our time here finished in April 2014 but it looks like we may not get to leave as we are expecting. And living on a base in a location like this is NOTHING like living anywhere in US, Europe, or other (more advanced) locations. Things like this may get cleared up "eventually" but there are a number of families and lives that are deeply effected by these types of cuts. My daughter was born 27 March 13 (in Germany, since we do not have adequate medical care to deliver a baby in Turkey), we look forward every day to when we will be able to introduce her to our relatives in person (as they cannot visit our location). If we do not leave here to go to another assignment, we may not have that chance for a long, long time. That's the side of sequestration most news channels in the US won't report on and you won't find in a newspaper because it has nothing to do with political leaders or parties but it's the families of the military that are affected the most.
Submitted by: Doug on August 1, 2013
Comment: Mood has changed at Moody AFB since sequestrations/furloughs Over the years, the workers at Moody AFB have become like family. Recently I sense an overall feeling of insecurity and doubt. These are the people who used to make my Veteran's day by joking, laughing, and cutting up with him at the commissary, shopette, security, and the base overall. Now I've not fully read what all this is about, but I will tell you one thing. You make these people feel insecure and in doubt, how are they supposed to be encouraging and supportive of my troops coming home and VETERANS? What are my troops coming home to? No job, spouse's hours cut, have to wait for everything and everybody, what? I'll have you know that these people who work on base are more than just employee's. They are there to listen, advise, support, and just plain leave a smile on your face when you leave, which in many cases is better than a shrink. Guess what? You, YOU took away their smile, so how are they supposed to make me smile or my troops smile or my VETERANS smile? So much for SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.
Submitted by: butterflyflip on July 31, 2013
Comment: Hi Teresa, From July 8 to the scheduled date of September 30, 2013, Government Service personnel will be furloughed for one day per week. While not all areas of the hospital will experience shorter hours or curtailed services, it is best to check with your specific clinic. From the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center home page (http://www.wrnmmc.capmed.mil/SitePages/home.aspx), click “Furlough News” located under “Featured Links.” This will take you directly to an up-to-date list of any clinic or service that will have restricted hours or services. If your clinic is not listed, there is no change in hours or services but you might experience slightly longer wait times. You might also consider enrolling in RelayHealth via the “Communicate with your Provider” link on the Walter Reed home page (http://www.wrnmmc.capmed.mil/SitePages/home.aspx) as another means of receiving information from your Walter Reed health care providers.
Submitted by: The Association on July 15, 2013
Comment: Hi Lee D, Yes, it will work the same way for your wife. You should consider starting the enrollment process for Medicare and TRICARE for Life in anticipation of her 65th birthday. You do not need to wait until she actually turns 65 to start the enrollment process. Additional information can be found on the TRICARE web site: http://www.tricare.mil/tfl
Submitted by: The Association on July 15, 2013
Comment: Hi Jen, While we can’t address the specifics of your question since we don’t know the installation, there can be several reasons for the cancellation of swimming lessons. Most agencies on installations were being tasked to make cuts to their programs. Your installation commander may have decided to keep the pools open but to cut back on swimming lessons to make those cuts. This does not appear to be the result of the furloughs, which as you have said, do not affect Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) employees. But, since most swimming lessons are conducted before the pools open to the general public, they may have decided to cut back on the hours of pool operation as well.
Submitted by: The Association on July 15, 2013
Comment: My wife is on tri-care prime, and will soon be on Medicare. If she goes to Medicare her secondary insurance will be tri-care for life w/medicare disability. That's how it is working for me. Will that work the same way for her?
Submitted by: Lee D on July 12, 2013
Comment: My Walter Reed outpatient clinic (where my PCM is) was closed yesterday - with no warning. I was calling my doctor's assistant to request a medication refill. The answering machine said due to furloughs the clinic was closed but there was one doc and a nurse available for urgent care and a phone number to call a duty officer if you needed urgent care. For emergent care call 911. Usually Naval Corpsmen answer the phones there and work the front desk so I was surprised when I called that number to get the same answering machine message. The service members were not furloughed so I do not understand why the clinic closed entirely. It felt like a political message to me, the beneficiary and that is like preaching to the choir.
Submitted by: Teresa on July 11, 2013
Comment: I have friend that told me swimming lessons were cancel at MWR pools because of sequestration. I was told MWR or NAF employees were not going to be furlogh.
Submitted by: jen on July 11, 2013
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