MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
A last-minute spending extension passed by Congress has alleviated fears of service members whose pay would have been affected April 1.
A government shutdown would’ve frozen military pay had Congress not passed a temporary funding bill on March 14.
The last government shutdown occurred in 1995. Service members received pay and reported to work. However this time, the 13-page contingency plan provided by the Department of Defense stated the military would miss a pay day if a shutdown occurred and are required to report to their place of duty.
“All military personnel will continue in normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with exempt or non-exempt activities,” says the draft planning guidance prepared for the services and defense agencies. “Military personnel will serve without pay until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service.”
The extension is in effect until April 8, at which point Congress will either extend the bill or approve a new budget. However, an unsure future in military pay looms if neither options come to fruition.
“I feel like the rug is being pulled from underneath us,” said Kelly Martinez, a Marine’s wife who quit her stateside job to join her husband on a three-year tour to Japan. “Luckily we don’t take our child to daycare, we don’t have cable, and we try to minimize our bills.”
But Martinez will feel the financial strain should pay come to a halt. They pay a mortgage on a house in Menifee, Calif., while another military family rents their home. They also pay rent on a house in Japan to their landlord who is a government employee.
“If my renters and my landlord don’t get paid, then what?” she asked.
Whether or not the bill passes, Marines and sailors can be financially prepared for worse case scenarios. There are sources available to service members to help them meet financial requirements.
“This might affect those Marines with families because they have bills to pay and dependents,” said Sgt. Guadalupe Rodriquez, motor transportation, I Marine Headquarters Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force. “In some cases it could affect those single Marines as well who have families they are financially assisting back home.”
Mike Hire, the base director for the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, remembers when this happened before in the late ‘90s and ‘70s and is confident that service members will receive pay. However, should the budget fall through again, NMCRS is prepared to provide the necessities for service members and their families and have a fast system established to assist in a timely manner.
“We are not going to leave our Marines without the basic necessities,” Hire said. “But should it not go through, we would be prepared to cover necessities like food and gas. It’s not the first of the month pay day that would be affected, which is when a lot of people have bills due such as rent. We are prepared to assist for short and long-term periods.”
Whether or not Marines see money in their bank accounts April 15, they should always be prepared for worst-case financial scenarios, and realize resources such as NMCRS are available to provide counseling, additional resources and assistance.
“The best thing I can do is inform my Marines of the possibility of not getting paid April 15,” Rodriquez said. “In addition to that I will inform them of some of the services that could possibly help them during that time should they run into money issues.”