Why the November Government Shutdown Matters More Than You Think

Two More Weeks of Political Inaction Before a Potential Shutdown.


From politics to your wallet, nothing says, ‘Happy holidays’ and ‘Thank you for your service’ better than the November government shutdown.The lack of a functional political body significantly impacts various military operations and personnel. Many see the impact on mission essential personnel like service members and the economic repercussions to families. Political infighting has a direct consequence that leads to missing paychecks and highlights the challenges faced by military families in maintaining their budgets during a potentially disruptive period.

We’ve written about how a shutdown undermines Army recruitment efforts. Still, we want to reinforce how a shutdown also impacts soldier morale and reinforces other’s efforts to support the federal government and the Armed Services.

  • Introduction
  • Surviving the November Government Shutdown: Impact on Military Families Explained
  • What Is the November Government Shutdown?
  • How Does the Government Shutdown Affect Mission Essential Personnel?
  • The Impact of Missing Paychecks on Military Families
  • Financial Strategies for Surviving the Government Shutdown
  • Exploring Available Resources and Support Systems
  • Navigating Essential Needs During the Shutdown
  • Maintaining Emotional Well-being During Uncertain Times
  • Practical Tips for Preparing for a Potential Shutdown
  • Communication and Support within the Military Community
  • Advocacy and Legislative Efforts for Military Families
  • The Importance of Self-care and Resilience
  • Conclusion: Standing Together to Support Our Military Families

Surviving the November Government Shutdown: Impact on Military Families Explained

Attention all military families! Brace yourselves for a potential storm that could disrupt your lives in the upcoming month of November. No, we are not talking about ‘that uncle’ who likes to sit at the kid’s table for Thanksgiving stealing their applesauce, nor are we talking about your sweet grandmother who keeps telling everyone she meets at the airport on her way to Thanksgiving that her grandchild is a soldier, single. She’s looking for grandchildren to spoil. No, we are talking about the November Government Shutdown. Government shutdowns have become an unfortunate part of our political landscape, causing uncertainty and financial hardships for many Americans. But for military families, the stakes are even higher. When our lawmakers fail to execute their elected duties and reach a budget agreement on time, mission essential personnel, including service members, face the grim reality of not receiving their hard-earned paychecks. Imagine the stress and anxiety of working tirelessly to protect our nation, only to find yourself struggling to make ends meet because of a government shutdown. The consequences can be devastating, with families forced to make difficult choices between paying bills, putting food on the table, and meeting other essential needs. Most civilians underestimate the potential impact of the November Government Shutdown on military families. So, if you’re part of a military family or know someone who is, this article is a must-read. Discover how to prepare yourself financially, emotionally, and mentally for the potential November Government Shutdown. Let’s stand together, united and resilient, as we face this imminent challenge head-on and ensure the well-being of our military families.

What Is the November Government Shutdown?

When we mention the November government shutdown, we are referring to the potential temporary closure of federal agencies and services due to a lack of funding approved by Congress. The shutdown will occur when lawmakers disagree on a budget or continuing resolution (CR).

How Does the Government Shutdown Affect Mission Essential Personnel?

During a government shutdown, mission essential personnel, including service members, must report to work. However, these personnel will not receive regular paychecks unless Congress passes a separate bill allowing military pay to continue. Despite the lack of income, soldiers must continue to pay for daily needs like gas and food to sustain them through a typical work week.

The Impact of Missing Paychecks on Military Families

One of the most significant consequences of a government shutdown for military families is its impact on their finances. Unless Congress passes a separate bill permitting military pay to continue, mission-essential personnel like service members will not be paid during a government shutdown and must report to work. While back pay is authorized, missing one or more paychecks is highly disruptive for military families struggling to maintain a tight budget. Many military families’ salary covers basic living expenses and additional costs such as housing, childcare, and healthcare. The sudden loss of income can lead to financial instability and make it challenging to meet these essential needs (Wilkaitis, 2022). Families may be unable to pay rent or mortgage payments, buy groceries, or afford medical care.

Furthermore, military families often rely on two incomes to make ends meet. If both spouses are in the military and are affected by the shutdown, the financial strain becomes even more severe. This situation can create a domino effect, impacting other aspects of their lives, such as their credit score and overall economic well-being. The stress and uncertainty caused by missing paychecks can also take a toll on the mental health of military families. Constantly worrying about finances and struggling to make ends meet can lead to increased anxiety, depression, and overall emotional distress. It can strain relationships within the family unit and create additional challenges for parents trying to provide stability for their children.

Financial Strategies for Surviving the Government Shutdown

In times of financial crisis like a government shutdown, military families must have strategies to help them navigate these challenging times. Here are some practical tips:

  • Create an Emergency Fund: Start building an emergency fund that can cover at least three months of living expenses. This fund can provide a safety net during times of financial uncertainty.
  • Review and Adjust Your Budget: Take a close look at your budget and identify areas where you can cut back on expenses. Prioritize essential needs such as housing, food, and healthcare, and find ways to reduce discretionary spending.
  • Explore Financial Assistance Programs: Research available financial assistance programs specifically designed for military families during times of crisis. These programs may offer grants, loans, or other forms of support to help bridge the gap until paychecks resume.
  • Communicate with Creditors: If you anticipate difficulty making timely payments, reach out to your creditors and explain the situation in advance. Many lenders are willing to work with individuals facing financial hardships and may offer temporary relief options.
  • Seek Additional Sources of Income: If you are in the military and married, you need a two-income household to survive the current economy. Exploring part-time job opportunities or freelance work that can provide an additional source of income now and during the shutdown. Look for remote work options that you or your spouse can do from home to minimize any impact on your military duties. Ensure your Commander’s approval before working and verify that it is not a conflict of interest. We have seen many soldiers become Uber and Lyft drivers.

Exploring Available Resources and Support Systems

Military families do not have to face the challenges of a government shutdown alone. Various resources and support systems are available to assist them during these difficult times.

  • Military Relief Organizations: Organizations such as the Army Emergency Relief (AER), Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS), Air Force Aid Society (AFAS), and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) offer financial assistance, interest-free loans, grants, and other forms of support to military families in need.
  • Federal Employee Assistance Programs: Some government agencies have established employee assistance programs that provide resources for federal employees affected by a government shutdown. These programs may offer financial counseling, mental health support, and access to community resources.
  • Nonprofit Organizations: Numerous nonprofit organizations focus on supporting military families. They provide various services, including financial assistance, counseling, educational resources, and employment support.
  • Local Community Support: Reach out to local community organizations, churches, and charities that may have programs to assist military families during a government shutdown. These organizations often provide food assistance, utility bill payment assistance, and other forms of support.

Navigating Essential Needs During the Shutdown

During a government shutdown, it’s crucial for military families to prioritize their essential needs and find ways to navigate through these challenging times. Here are some practical tips:

  • Housing: If you’re struggling to make rent or mortgage payments during the shutdown, communicate with your landlord or mortgage lender as soon as possible. They may be willing to work out a temporary payment plan or offer other solutions.
  • Food Assistance: “Only 14 percent of military personnel who experience food insecurity receive public or private assistance to feed themselves and their families, RAND Corp. said in a study last month. Of those people, only 1.8 percent benefited from SNAP (Donnelly, 2023).” Pride doesn’t keep your family fed. If you qualify, use food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or local food banks. These resources can help ensure that your family has access to nutritious meals during the shutdown.
  • Healthcare: Contact your healthcare provider or insurance company if you’re concerned about affording healthcare expenses during the shutdown. They may have options available for reduced payments or deferred billing.
  • Educational Support: Military families with children may face additional academic challenges during a government shutdown. Stay in communication with your child’s school and explore online learning resources to help bridge any education gaps. Soldiers using tuition assistance (TA) must understand the impact and talk with their university.

Maintaining Emotional Well-being During Uncertain Times

The emotional well-being of military families is crucial, especially during times of uncertainty like a government shutdown. Here are some strategies to help maintain emotional well-being:

  • Open Communication: Talk openly with your family members about your challenges and encourage them to share their feelings. Open communication can help strengthen bonds and provide support during difficult times.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to your military community for support. Attend support group meetings, connect with other military families, and lean on each other for emotional support.
  • Practice Self-care: Take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Engage in activities that bring you joy and help reduce stress, such as exercise, meditation, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.
  • Stay Informed: Stay updated on the latest news regarding the government shutdown, but be mindful of how much information you consume. Limit exposure to negative news and focus on positive stories that highlight resilience and unity.

Practical Tips for Preparing for a Potential Shutdown

While we hope for the best outcome, preparing for a government shutdown is essential. Here are some practical tips to help you prepare:

  • Create a Financial Plan; You Need a Budget: Develop a financial plan that includes an emergency fund, budget adjustments, and potential income sources in case of a shutdown.
  • Gather Important Documents: Ensure you have copies of essential documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, insurance policies, and identification cards readily available in case they are needed during the shutdown.
  • Contact Your Financial Institutions: Reach out to your bank or credit union to discuss any potential impact the shutdown may have on your accounts or loans. They can provide guidance on how to navigate through the situation.
  • Stay Connected: Stay connected with your military chain of command and ensure you are aware of any updates or guidance related to the shutdown. They can provide valuable information and support during this time.

Communication and Support within the Military Community

The military community is known for its resilience and support for one another. During a government shutdown, it’s essential to lean on this community for communication and support. Here are some ways to stay connected:

  • Online Forums and Social Media Groups: Join online forums or social media groups specifically created for military families. These platforms provide a space to share experiences, ask questions, and offer support to one another.
  • Military Family Readiness Centers: Reach out to your local Military Family Readiness Center for information on available resources, workshops, and support services during a government shutdown.
  • Military Network Organizations: Connect with other military spouses through local spouse clubs or organizations. These groups often organize events, activities, and programs that foster camaraderie and provide mutual support.

Advocacy and Legislative Efforts for Military Families

Military families have a strong voice in advocating for their rights and well-being. During a government shutdown, staying informed about legislative efforts that impact military pay and benefits is essential. Here are some ways to get involved:

  • Contact Your Representatives: Reach out to your local, state, and federal elected officials. Share your concerns about the impact of a government shutdown on military families and urge them to prioritize finding solutions.
  • Join Military Advocacy Organizations: Get involved with organizations that advocate for military families’ rights and well-being. These organizations often provide resources, information, and opportunities to participate in advocacy efforts.
  • Stay Informed: Stay updated on proposed legislation and policy changes that may affect military families. Subscribe to our newsletter (shameless plug) and others, follow relevant social media accounts, and engage with reputable news sources to stay informed.

The Importance of Self-care and Resilience

During a government shutdown, military families must prioritize self-care and resilience. Here are some strategies from Military OneSource to help you stay strong (Fawcett, 2022):

  • Take Breaks: Allow yourself time to relax and recharge. Take breaks from the news cycle and engage in activities that bring you joy and peace.
  • Lean on Your Support System: Reach out to friends, family members, or fellow military families for support. Share your concerns, ask for help when needed, and offer support to others who may be going through similar challenges.
  • Celebrate Small Victories: Acknowledge and celebrate small victories during the shutdown. Whether finding ways to save money or successfully navigating a challenging situation, every accomplishment counts.
  • Chill Drills: “These guided drills for the military community to help create calm by slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the level of stress hormone in the body (Military OneSource, 2023).”

Conclusion: Standing Together to Support Our Military Families

The potential November Government Shutdown brings uncertainty and challenges for military families nationwide. The impact of missing paychecks can be significant, affecting their financial stability and emotional well-being. However, by being prepared, accessing available resources and support systems, prioritizing essential needs, maintaining emotional well-being, advocating for their rights, practicing self-care, and fostering resilience within the military community – military families can weather this storm together. We stand united in supporting our military families during these trying times. Let us unite as a nation to ensure they receive the assistance they need while continuing their vital service in protecting our country. By standing together, we can overcome the challenges of a government shutdown and emerge stronger than ever.

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