The furloughs resulting from Congress’s failure to prevent sequestration began yesterday.
This means that close to 85% of the Department of Defense’s workforce will work, and be paid for, four days, instead of five, this week and every week until September 30 when fiscal year 2013 ends. Approximately 650,000 men and women will lose one day’s pay per week for the next 11 weeks. Think about it. That’s a 20% pay cut.
What does this mean for military families?
Many military spouses are civilian employees of the Department of Defense. In families already living paycheck to paycheck, this means tighter budgets or more credit card debt.
Military medical clinics are not immune to cuts. 40% of staff at military medical centers are DoD civilian employees, so access to care is sure to be impacted. Our access was already impacted when initial cuts went into place a few months ago. It took 11 weeks to get a follow up appointment at Bethesda Naval Hospital for Bob, following an MRI. Thank G-d it was nothing serious, but what if it had been?
Military commissaries across the country will be closed on Mondays during the furlough period, and commissaries that are already closed on Mondays will be closed on Tuesdays as well.
DoD school teachers and staff will be forced to take five, as yet to be determined, furlough days. This can mean five fewer learning days for our kids in DoD schools all over the world!
Our military depends on civilian employees to manage and maintain many of its programs. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, in a memo dated 14 May 2013,
‘we have begun making sharp cuts in the training and maintenance of our operating forces — cutbacks that are seriously harming military readiness. The Army, for example, has terminated most remaining FY 2013 training rotations at its combat training centers. The Air Force has or soon will stop all flying at about one-third of its combat coded squadrons in the active forces. The Navy and Marine Corps are cutting back on training and on deployments — including a decision not to send a second carrier strike group to the Gulf.’
The cuts are sure to impact our military’s readiness and, therefore, the safety of our troops.
The government needs to save money, to be sure, but aren’t there better ways to do so? Our military does its job every day. The troops work long hours to get the job done and often don’t see their homes or families for days or months at a time. It is time for Congress to do the same. Get to work. Figure it out. Do the job.