When my husband was deployed, we didn't get paid multiple times. Once we didn't get paid two times in a row. When he came home, the military owed us a large sum of money with no idea when it would come. While he was gone, I often had to make the choice between eating and paying bills.
We’re Marine Corps Reservists. And as much as I hate to say it, slow and very late payments are not abnormal in our community.
With the government shutdown we are unlikely to get paid for any drill or Annual Training time that has already happened because the civilians who process it have been furloughed. And while most drill weekends have been postponed, those that support an “exempted activity” have not, according to the Defense Department. Because Reservists who are on duty less than 30 days don’t fall under the legislation protecting servicemember pay during the shutdown, it’s unclear whether payment will be processed for those events before the shutdown is lifted.
In the past during the times the payments were late what it came down to was that the people who were in charge of the payment paperwork got paid whether my husband did or not. Their pay direct deposited whether they filled out the paperwork for us correctly or not. It made no difference to them and it gave them no sense of urgency to know that my husbands unit wasn't paid and their families were stateside unsure of how to make ends meet.
And because it happened so many times over the course of the time they were gone, our emergency funds were exhausted on the promise of refilling them when we got the money we were owed.
The way I see it, this is what is happening now, only on a national level.
Congress will get paid. They will receive their salary as an “essential” part of our government. And yet, our military is not considered “essential.” And while active duty will get paid for the first part of October, if the shutdown lasts twenty one days, as it did last time, that money will run out.
Our congress gets paid no matter what happens. While our veterans are waiting on I.O.U.’s for their benefits, and so many government employees are unsure how to make due, our Congress get paid. While furloughs are being issued to employees who have already been furloughed this year, to people who have moved through the sequester hoping that fall would bring a better time, our Congress is getting paid.
I’m sure if there were consequences for their actions, if they were held to the standards that the rest of us are, this wouldn’t have happened. Under threat of immediately losing their jobs, or pay, or both, this wouldn’t have happened. But a lack of consequence for them, means that the nation has to bear the brunt of their choices.
So Congress squabbles amongst themselves. They are strong arming each other and refusing to get along. And while they are doing that, 800,000 people are paying Congresses share of the price.
And all we can do is sit and wait and hope that our emergency funds and the good will of our family and friends outlasts the shutdown. If it doesn’t, I shudder to think about the further consequences we will carry for a group of elected officials that lose nothing in the process of us losing everything.
A Girl, who prefers to keep her work anonymous, began blogging in 2008 as a means of coping with deployment. She is a Veterinary Technician by trade and loves her work in Emergency and Critical Care. She has been married for four years to a 10 year USMC reservist with whom she has three very bratty dogs. You can read her ramblings about reserve life, muddling through the aftermath of a very difficult deployment and life in general at A Boy, A Girl and the Marine Corps: A Love Triangle, via her Facebook page or on Twitter @BoyGirlUSMC.