What If The Government Shuts Down?

There have been a few questions floating around the internet regarding how a possible government shutdown could affect military families.  I don’t claim to know every detail about every aspect, but I do know a few things.

UPDATE 3/11/2011:  New guidance is very different.  Please see  Update to Government Shutdown Plans

First, a government shutdown should not affect active duty military pay.  The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is not funded via the general budget, and therefore is not part of the government that might close.  DFAS did not close during the last government shutdown, and it has informed its workers that it will continue to operate even if a shutdown occurs.  I know this is the most important issue for most military families, and I am glad that the news is good.

Most military services will continue to run as usual, though you may see a few less civilians at work.

There is one big possibility that will impact many families:  the commissaries could possibly close during a government shutdown.  During the last government shutdown, commissaries kept operating.  However, this time is different.  It is confusing, and I don’t exactly have all the details to explain it well.  Basically, the commissary employees are part of a union.  The union is supposed to be in contract negotiations.  If the government shuts down, the negotiations can’t continue.  However, it isn’t clear if the commissaries will, in fact, close.  I’m a little frustrated that no one seems to know, or they aren’t sharing what they do know with us.  Today, the commissary issued a press release on the subject, but it didn’t say anything useful.  The first sentence of the press release is, “In the event of a government shutdown, commissary customers are asked to check their local military installation news outlets before, during and after the event to determine if stores serving their area are open.”  It then rambles on for an additional four paragraphs without giving any clue as to whether they expect the commissaries to stay open or close.  There is also no mention of unusual situations, such as commissaries located overseas.

I will continue to keep you updated as new information becomes available.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Thank you for the update! I sincerly hopes its true for many of us!!

  • Teddi

    If the government shuts down and military pay is stopped for a period of time, what will happen to those of us insured under TriCare? Will be still be covered by our insurance?

  • G, Mosier

    I served in the USMC as an E-5/E-6 during 1976, and 1978,when we were put into formation, and ordered to be at work – even if we did not get a paycheck.

    It took a week to receive our pay checks. We were still required to pay our bills. They told us we should of “saved for a raining day…” No relief from any source to help with our bills.

    • Rick

      yeah, easy for them to say, isn’t it….

  • G. Mosier

    PS: Make sure you do not post date any checks…. that is from experience…

  • D. Cummins

    Listen Mr. Mosier, we do not live in the stone ages of slave military mentality anymore. Our country, our economy, our people have evolved since then. We are in a recession and if our soldiers/sailors get stumped from being paid, then I wholeheartedly support them to go make money elsewhere to support their families until Uncle Sam fulfills his part of the contract. Either that or the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society will go broke in about a month!

    Sergeant Major

  • KTaylor

    Mr. Cummins, why do you have to get so hostile. The only thing Mr. Mosier was saying was that they didn’t get paid and he was giving everybody a heads up. He wasn’t saying anything to insult you. As for dropping rank, I’m sure this website doesn’t care what rank you are. E-1 to an E-9, all types the same. I have just as much respect for Mr. Mosier as I do for you for serving. I only served 5 years in the Navy because it was boring as all. Im sure the “stone ages” you are reffering to were a hell of a lot harder than it is for you now. At least when you get paid, it’s a halfway decent paycheck and you can live a better life than Mr. Mosier did with his paycheck that wouldn’t cover an E-1’s now days. All in all, show some respect to your fellow veteran and set a good example for those you lead.

    P.S. If you haven’t seen the news, only those overseas will be getting a check and those in the US won’t. But congress will.

    • Rick

      he’s hostile b/c he’s military, and he’s been lied to, and he’s venting on this forum.
      We were all dupes, all of us who served. To current members, get out! To those who are contemplating joining, don’t!! your country will lie to you and use you and there’s nothing you can do about it.
      Rick, former mushroom–US army 1992-2000

    • KateKashman

      KTaylor, military pay is safe due to the Passage of the Pay Our Military Act that was signed into law late last evening. https://paycheck-chronicles.military.com/2013/10/0… Hope that helps!

  • critter36

    will military vets get paid during a shutdown ?

  • Jlangley
    • KateKashman

      Jlangley – I have no idea! I suggest that you contact your recruiter for more information. Good luck to you.