ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Thousands of Coast Guard members will soon be serving without pay if the partial federal government shutdown continues into the new year.
The Coast Guard announced on its website that the military workforce will receive paychecks on Dec. 31, but service members won’t be paid again until its budget is passed through Congress.
The loss of pay would impact more than 40,000 active duty Coast Guardsmen across the country, including around 1900 in Alaska. Most civilian employees with the Coast Guard have been furloughed.
The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that will see active duty members serving without pay throughout the shutdown. Every other branch is funded by the Department of Defense which has had its budget approved. However, Congress has not funded the Coast Guard which is run through the Department of Homeland Security.
In the past, the feds have provided back pay once a budget has been passed for work done during a shutdown.
Through longstanding tradition, active duty service members do not speak out about politics but retired veterans and spouses don’t face the same restrictions.
Lindsey Fisher, a retired member of the Coast Guard served in Kodiak from 2009 - 2012, she has been active on social media about her frustration with the unsure financial future for those serving.
“I know many families that live paycheck to paycheck and they were calling their banks, mortgage companies, landlord and all their other bill companies and most were basically told, 'tough,'” wrote Fisher in a message. “It’s our livelihood, it’s not knowing if we can pay bills, feed our kids, pay for childcare or gas.”
Since leaving Alaska, Fisher has since moved to the East Coast along with her husband who still actively serves in the Coast Guard. She was far from alone on social media with many spouses posting their frustration with the news.
The Coast Guard posted a letter on its website that guardsmen could give to creditors explaining why they didn't have money.
"Coast Guard members will return to pay status as soon as possible. In the interim, they will continue to execute their duties and ensure our homeland remains secure," read the letter written by Rear Admiral Matthew W. Sibley.
Country Music Television host and actor, Cody Alan, is touring across Alaska visiting military facilities including Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Base and Eielson Air Force Base. Alan posted a tweet out in support of funding the Coast Guard.
.@USCG not getting paid during the gov’t #shutdown. I just saw the Coast Guard on my trip to #Alaska, airing tmoro morn on @CMT. the unfortunate irony is these are the people actually protecting our borders. #ShutdownStories https://t.co/k1bDOGFYVr— Cody Alan (@CodyAlan) December 28, 2018