It's fairly quiet on the veteran's front this wintry morn. Nevertheless, there's a couple of things going on.
Let's take a look at the oft-forgotten branch of the military, being the Coast Guard. Unlike the other four branches, the Coast Guard has been affected by the shutdown. Believe it or not, there are Coast Guardsmen today that are on-duty, doing what they always do, and not getting a dime for their work.
It's enough that a group of retired Master Chiefs has something to say about it.
For 28 days, 800,000 government workers have been either furloughed or working without pay, including more than 56,000 active-duty, reserve and civilian members of one of our nation's armed services, the U.S. Coast Guard.
Active-duty Coast Guard servicemen and women remain on the job, devoted to their work of saving lives and defending our nation's waterways and coasts, even as they and their families go without compensation.
No one joins the military to get rich. Contrary to popular belief, the pay is not high, particularly at the entry-level pay grades. In fact, the base pay of more than 14,000 junior members of the Coast Guard (which is about one-third of the active-duty workforce) is considered at or just below the established poverty level. Most of these members do not have the resources to go without pay over any extended period of time.
To assist our unpaid Coast Guard personnel, many military support organizations and spouses' clubs have set up food banks near Coast Guard installations throughout the country.
The Coast Guard itself is trying to grapple with the situation in myriad ways. For instance, at Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, the Coast Guard's only "boot camp," many recruits are being held after graduation because the service is unable to give them travel money to send them on to their first duty stations.
Resources directly focused on the service, such as Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, Coast Guard Foundation, Coast Guard Enlisted Association, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Association, and Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officers Association, as well as many other "military support" organizations, are being stretched to the limit.
We all served with pride and honor with the U.S. Coast Guard, a branch of the armed forces as defined by law under Title 14, U.S. Code Section One.
Its members, as well as those of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, swore an oath to "... support and defend the Constitution of the United States." This oath requires military personnel to be ready and willing to serve whenever and wherever our country needs them. That's 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year anywhere in the world.
Our government leaders also took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and to "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office" that they now hold. We believe they are derelict in those duties.
I'm finding it disturbing now that one of my primary sources of military news, Military.com, is starting to list more stories on their sidebar about how to cope with the shutdown. Here's a question that veterans need answered - "How does the government shutdown affect your healthcare?" For active personnel, nothing changes, as they are cared for through their normal channels. But there's families, retirees, and detached units that often rely on civilians for medical care.
There's more listings out there.
For the most part, Tricare is not hurt at all by the partial shutdown at this time. In part, that's because the Defense Department isn't one of the agencies impacted.
But the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard are. And Coasties use Tricare too.
The shutdown has affected allotments that Coast Guard members, their family members and survivors use to pay their Tricare enrollment fees, as well as dental and vision insurance premiums with BENEFEDS.
Since Coast Guard members aren't getting paid, there are no allotments going out to pay their insurance premiums.
VA Health Care
The Department of Veterans Affairs says, "All VA medical centers and clinics will remain fully operational and will continue to provide health care services ... during the government shutdown. Previously scheduled VA health care appointments are not affected."
That means that you don't have to worry about seeing your VA doctor or VA Choice provider for any health care needs you may have. In fact, all VA services remain open and all VA employees are on the job. The VA was one of the few government agencies that had a new budget in place before the shutdown, so it hasn't been affected in any way.
In fact, you can still get your prescriptions filled, make appointments with medical providers, and get any other VA benefits in the same way you did before the shutdown.
So the good news is that your VA health care and other benefits are still available, and most Tricare users are unaffected.
But we'll take this as our parting shot today.
Troops Killed in Action
During the Jan. 2018 shutdown, newly bereaved family members were not to receive the Pentagon's $100,000 death gratuity during a shutdown or military-funded travel to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, or elsewhere for the dignified transfer or military funeral or memorial.
And as somebody on the discussion thread noted - 'A lot of this is old information". Well, especially for Coast Guard sources, there is nobody getting paid to write new articles, so they're not being written, and instead old information is being re-cycled.
The shutdown is more insidious than we all realize.