The partial government shutdown reached another uncomfortable milestone Tuesday when members of the U.S. Coast Guard missed a paycheck – the first time American military service members have ever not been paid during a shutdown.
In a letter addressed to more than 40,000 active duty guardsmen and guardswomen on the day of their first missed paycheck, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl L. Schultz acknowledged the strain the gap in pay places on them.
“I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf,” Schultz wrote.
He also wrote that “to the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation’s history that servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations.”
The Coast Guard is the only military branch directly impacted by the shutdown. While the other branches of the military are funded by the Department of Defense – which is fully funded – the Coast Guard is funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
Guard members were paid through Dec. 31 via a “one-time action,” per the Coast Guard’s official blog. About 6,400 civilian workers were also furloughed, and 2,100 are working without pay, Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride told the Washington Post.
In his letter, Schultz promised to keep Coast Guard service members updated about the shutdown.
He noted that the civilian workforce had already missed one paycheck, adding “we are confronting this challenge together.”
“The strength of our Service has, and always be, our people. You have proven time and again the ability to rise above adversity. Stay the course, stand the watch, and serve with pride. You are not, and will not, be forgotten.”
Schultz also said that the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) has donated $15 million “to support our people in need.” The American Red Cross will distribute the funds to those who need it.
The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Read the full letter here: