As some military retirees and National Guard and reserve members who are federal employees go unpaid as the result of the partial government shutdown -- not to mention the entire U.S. Coast Guard, which hasn't been paid since Jan. 1 -- military aid societies are stepping in to help ease their financial burdens.
An influx of donations, including a $15 million gift from USAA, has enabled Coast Guard Mutual Assistance to bump up the maximum amount a member can borrow. Coast Guard men and women, as well as civilian employees, are eligible for loans up to $1,000, while Coasties with dependents are eligible for loans up to $1,500. The previous limits were $750 and $1,000 respectively.
To obtain a loan, Coast Guard personnel and non-furloughed civilians are encouraged to complete the necessary paperwork and contact the American Red Cross, at saf.redcross.org/css, to complete the process, or call the Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337.
Furloughed civilians must complete a separate form and contact a Coast Guard Mutual Assistance office for help.
Army Emergency Relief is providing no-interest loans up to $600 to retired soldiers, as well as current and retired U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard members who are federal employees on furlough.
AER will continue to provide assistance for each pay period missed during the shutdown and encourages those in need to visit an AER office or call the American Red Cross.
"It's AER's mission to ease the financial burden soldiers and their families are currently facing, and we strongly feel it is the right thing to do," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Ray Mason, the AER director.
For Navy and Marine Corps retirees, and dependents of active-duty members and reservists on active duty who are affected federal employees, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society will provide financial assistance, according to retired Navy Capt. Shelley Marshall, vice president and chief development and communications officer at NMCRS.
The society is prepared to help with basic living expenses and emergency bills during the shutdown, according to its website. Visit www.nmcrs.org to find the nearest office or contact the American Red Cross.
For Air Force retirees and families, the Air Force Aid Society doesn't have any special programs in place for the government shutdown, but its normal eligibility parameters for loans "allow great flexibility for the organization to help retired airmen who are civil servants and families," according to retired Lt. Gen. John Hopper, chief executive officer at AFAS.
"Retired airmen that happen to be civil servants can always come to us for assistance when the loss of their paycheck creates a financial emergency," Hopper said. "Likewise, although a furloughed Air Force spouse is not eligible for assistance, his or her Air Force family remains eligible through the active-duty spouse."
Since the Defense Department is funded through Sept. 30, 2019, its members, retirees and civilian employees are receiving their pay as scheduled. The Department of Veterans Affairs also was fully funded last year under appropriations bills, so veterans will continue to receive their monthly disability compensation as planned, according to the VA.
-- Patricia Kime can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.