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Sequestration Now a Reality ... Sort Of: What to Expect

Now that sequestration spending cuts are a reality I have some good news and some bad news.

The bad news: unless Congress changes the law soon every single one of us will be touched in some way by these cuts – and we probably won’t like it.

The good news: while today, March 1, is in fact the day sequestration happens … it kind of isn’t.

Here’s why:

Almost every major DoD cut, including civilian furloughs, won’t actually go into effect until early April at the earliest, and our sources with the Office of the Secretary of Defense insist that most of them won’t happen until almost May.

The reason? It takes awhile to put plans into action. Workers get an official notification period before they are furloughed or, in the case of other types of hires (such as MWR employees), let go. Directors essentially have the next month or so to decide what parts of their programs they’re going to shrink or eliminate and have the post or base commander approve it. Here at Fort Campbell, for example, cuts have already been recommended to the highest levels. Those uniformed officials are now vetting them.

But whatever rumors you’ve heard about drastic cuts happening TODAY, March 1, are likely false. DoD schools are still in operation. CYS is still open. The commissary is still running. The only March 1 related cut I’ve heard about concerns contractors whose contracts ended Feb. 28 and were not renewed due to pending sequestration.

So what cuts WILL we see starting sometime in April?

With few exceptions, no one really knows. Here’s what has been made public so far:

Civilian DoD employees will be furloughed. Our OSD contact tells us that won’t happen until late April at the earliest. But when it does you’ll see programs shrink for lack of workers or offices be completely closed one extra day a week. Lines will be longer. Paperwork will stack-up. And not just for you. It will take your servicemember longer to get through those lines, too. When she used to spend three days in out processing, for example,  she may now spend five -- because it just takes that much longer to get the same things done.

The commissaries will be closed on Wednesdays. This is the first tangible “for-sure” we have about how the civilian furloughs will impact military families. According to a DeCA memo, starting in early April commissaries will be closed Wednesdays in addition to whatever days they are already shut on your base. You can read more about that here.

DoD schools will also see reductions in staffing. Again, we aren’t sure what this will look like when implemented. But school teachers at on-post and base schools ARE DoD employees. The furloughs will impact them as well.

The Army, at least, plans to reduce CYS services including day care hours and youth sports. This announcement was made earlier this week at an Army press conference. I wish I had more information for you about what this means. For example, exactly what day care hours will be reduced? Hourly care? Full day care? Free care provided for families of deployed soldiers? Unfortunately Installation Management Command did not return calls for comment.

Like we said at the beginning of this post, the good news is that Congress still has the power to stop ALL of this from happening.

We’re doers here at SpouseBuzz. What something crazy like this is about to happen, we want to DO something about it. And want to help you to, too.

So here’s what you can do. Tell your non-military friends about the what the cuts will mean for your military life. Post about it on Facebook. Tweet it. Share it at the bus line.

And write your Congressman and Senator using this super easy form. Let them know that this is not OK.

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