Shutdown over border wall strains Coast Guard members and their families

Austin

Georgetown (KXAN) – Hundreds of thousands of federal workers plan to go without a second paycheck as the government shutdown drags on. The Senate failed to pass both bills that could have reopen the government Thursday night: one backed by the President and Republicans, the other backed by Democrats.

The only branch of the military not getting paid during this shutdown is the U.S. Coast Guard. That is under the Department of Homeland Security.

Tracy Hick’s son is in the coast guard and has gone almost five weeks without pay. Hicks says he can help with the bills but many cannot. All this, when the military prides itself on getting people out of poverty. 

“People come from nothing. You get these kids coming out of boot camp they don’t have anything. They got that first paycheck. They need that first paycheck,” said Hicks.

The second paycheck in a row hasn’t come to the hands of 40,000 active and 8,000 civilian members of the coast guard. They’re charged with catching people and drugs coming to the US illegally, rescuing stranded ships, and guarding Americans stationed across the world.

“I don’t know if pressure is the right word. Just be real with your thoughts because it’s the truth. At this point to me, it’s not about democrat or republican, we’re Americans. We owe it to ourelves and to our service members to take care of them. The least we can do is pay them,” said Hicks.

Guardmembers now look to non-profits to help make ends meet. The Coast Guard commandant spoke out for the first time.

Adm. Karl Schultz, the Coast Guard commandant said “I find it unacceptable that coast guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day to day life as service members.”

Hicks now believes more veterans need to speak up until Democrats and Republicans come to an agreement. “We owe it to these kids to voice out because we were in that position too.”

The Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security but it’s considered a military service. That’s because during times of war or conflict the President can order the Coast Guard to operate under the Navy.

A recently enlisted Coast Guardsman with two years or less experience makes a little more than $46,000 a year, including an allowance for meals and housing. With the shutdown in effect for just over a month, they will have missed out on thousands of dollars.

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