On Tuesday, January 15, 42,000 active-duty U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) members were not issued their scheduled paycheck and remain the only branch of our military to work without pay during the 25 days (and counting) government shutdown.
Unlike other branches of the military—still being funded by the Department of Defense—the Coast Guard is receiving no funding under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Admiral Karl L. Schultz addressed the issue on Tuesday in a letter posted on the USCG’s Facebook and Twitter pages. “Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck,” the Commandant wrote. “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 appropriations.”
DHS is working on a solution to right the ship and to pay active-duty USCG. Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted Tuesday: “I’m working with the White House and Congress to pass legislation to fund the USGC now.”
The legislation is finding bipartisan support. "This situation is especially unfair for those who must work without pay, including members of the Coast Guard who continue to perform critical national security and lifesaving duties without knowing when they will receive their next paycheck," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., one of the bill's sponsors, said in a statement.
More from Admiral Schultz‘s statement:
“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. To this end, I am encouraged to share that Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) has received a $15 million donation from USAA to support our people in need. In partnership with CGMA, the American Red Cross will assist in the distribution of these funds to our military and civilian workforce requiring assistance. I am grateful for the outpouring of support across the country, particularly in local communities, for our men and women. It is a direct reflection of the American public’s sentiment towards their United States Coast Guard; they recognize the sacrifice that you and your family make in service to your country.”
The 229-year old USCG is America’s maritime first responder, responsible for search-and-rescue, securing the nation's ports and coastlines, other law enforcement duties and environmental response. Every day, the men and women of the USGC perform critical economic, national and border security. And as we all know, they’ve saved the lives of many recreational and commercial boaters in the most treacherous of conditions.
Admiral Schultz echoed the sentiments of many of us in his statement’s conclusion. “The strength of our Service has, and always will 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."
This article was originally published in our sister publication Power and Motoryacht. To participate in discussion of this article please visit Power and Motoryacht.