The U.S. Coast Guard is still on the job during the shutdown. And unlike other members of the military, they aren’t getting paid.
Apparently, their families also won’t get a dime in death benefits as long as the shutdown continues, according to CNN.
While the U.S. Department of Defense was funded with a spending bill passed near the end of 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which is one of the many agencies affected by the current government shutdown. And because President Trump has yet to sign any bill appropriating funds for the Department of Homeland Security, families of Guardsmen who die in the line of duty won’t see any of the death benefits promised to them if their loved one dies on the job.
Lieutenant Commander Scott McBride added that other Coast Guard benefits, like those paid to retirees and next of kin, will also be unavailable during the shutdown.
“As the lapse in appropriation continues, more than 55,000 Coast Guard active duty, reserve, and civilian employees will not receive monthly pay and benefits,” McBride stated. “In addition, the federal funding hiatus may affect the retired pay for 50,000 Coast Guard annuitants.”
The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for guarding more than 12,000 miles of coastline (to compare, the U.S. Border Patrol guards less than 2,000 miles of land on the Southern border), and their jobs frequently involve putting themselves in danger. While rare, there are instances of Coast Guard members dying on duty. In 2013, Petty Officer Third Class Travis Obendorf died from injuries incurred during a rescue operation in Alaska. The Coast Guard’s website states that families get a one-time payment of $10,000 if their loved one dies in the line of duty.
Because of the current shutdown, tens of thousands of Coast Guard families — both enlisted members and civilians — missed a paycheck, marking the first time members of the U.S. military were not paid. And if it continues, those families could miss another payday. As Grit Post previously reported, Guardsmen were told to sell their possessions and offer to do odd jobs — like babysitting — to pay their bills, according an official memo the service sent to its members earlier this month.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.