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

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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 16 - 24 of 24  Previous12
Comment: Hi Chris, It depends on the local landlord tenant laws in the state you live in. Talk to your command about when/if orders are coming. Alert the command that you may be required to move as you have given notice to your landlord. We recommend you visit the legal office and inquire about the landlord-tenant protections where you are located.
Submitted by: The Association on April 1, 2013
Comment: My landlord is showing the house that we rent ... what if our PCS orders are held us? Can he force us out ... we have informed him that orders are not being issued at this time and we might not be authorized to move. I'm a Navy wife and I am worried that we will be homeless. We cannot even put our name on a waiting list for housing.
Submitted by: Chris on March 31, 2013
Comment: Can you shed any light on National Guard TA as well as National Guard full-time technicians? What we know so far is that NG techs will be furloughed one day per week through September and no TA. It's going to cut our income by 20 percent and raise our tuition cost by many, many thousands of dollars for the next six months.
Submitted by: Ruby on March 29, 2013
Comment: For us non-government types, it's hard to understand what the big deal is with sequestration. Instead of budgets going up 4%, they are going up 2%. Ask a salaried worker in the private sector when was the last time they got a raise and you'll know why the rest of us are tired of hearing government workers complain.
Submitted by: Bill on March 29, 2013
Comment: Creech Afb has had cuts in SAV pay. Will it come back anytime soon? This is a financial burden for those who live on Nellis Afb because of the lack of housing on Creech. So the gas and wear on the vehicles most come out of our pocket. Also moving off base to be closer to Creech is another finacial strain. I hope to hear it is re-enstated soon.
Submitted by: JP on March 29, 2013
Comment: MCCSemployee - your TA comes out of a different pot. Our recommendation is to contact your HR office for more info.
Submitted by: The Association on March 27, 2013
Comment: James - Army reservists’ tuition assistance should follow the same rules as the Army. Best advice is to contact your education officer for more information.
Submitted by: The Association on March 27, 2013
Comment: I am wondering how this will affect MCCS employees? as well as if TA for MCCS employees has been changed?
Submitted by: MCCSemploee on March 22, 2013
Comment: What about Army reservists' and their tuition assitance and the GI bill?
Submitted by: James on March 21, 2013
Items 16 - 24 of 24  Previous12
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