Defense Department officials Monday warned of the rolling impact from the sequester budget cuts on military families in a range of services from schools and commissaries to daycare.
Teachers and support personnel at the 197 DOD elementary and secondary schools serving 84,000 children worldwide "will be subject to furloughs and that is regrettable," said George Little, the chief Pentagon spokesman.
Little said the Defense Department was looking to delay the 22-day furloughs for school personnel – the same as is being imposed on the 800,000 DOD civilian workers – until the beginning of the next academic year in September to preserve accreditation for the schools through the current academic year and summer schools.
The Defense Department is "going to do everything we can to protect the education of military children" while accommodating the budget cuts that "enables military children to receive the accredited school year" based on 175-180 days in classes, Little said.
Pentagon officials said the furloughs would also hit the workforce at the 197 base commissaries worldwide, where 64 percent of the personnel are military spouses, dependents or veterans.
"Every commissary in the world will be affected," said Little, who also confirmed that the commissaries would shut down one day a week, probably Wednesdays, beginning in late April.
The impact of the $85 billion in overall budget cuts for the current fiscal year (about $46 billion for defense) was unclear on daycare at the more than 800 military Child Development Centers and youth facilities worldwide serving more than 500,000 children daily.
"We don't know at the moment but we're reviewing that closely," said Laurie Dette, a spokeswoman at the Army's Installations and Management Command at Fort Sam Houston, Tex.
"We believe they're going to take a bite," in daycare service and availability, said Joyce Raezer, executive director of the non-profit National Military Family Association. "Everything we hear is that they're going to take a hit. We're already seeing a pullback in drop-in care" availability at the CDCs, Raezer said.
The furloughs at the commissaries, where 28 percent of the workers are military spouses, will hit families especially hard, Raezer said. She noted that President Obama had pledged to protect the pay of servicemembers "and it's great that our servicemembers are going to get paychecks, but most military families need two."
Obama pledged to limit the impact of the so-called sequester and "manage it the best we can to minimize the impact on American families."
"It's not the right way to go about deficit reduction," Obama said, but he acknowledged that there was little chance of reaching a quick compromise with Republicans in Congress on offsetting the $85 billion in budget cuts.