For the first time in American history, members of a branch of the armed services are not getting paid because of a government shutdown.
That’s according to a public memo released Tuesday on social media by Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Schultz said Tuesday’s missed paycheck, to his knowledge, marked the first time in the history of the nation “that service members in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations.”
The Coast Guard is the only military service branch to fall under the Department of Homeland Security, according to the Coast Guard website, which is why they are the only service with payroll affected by the partial government shutdown.
The Coast Guard issued its final paychecks for the year, but will be unable to distribute further pay until a budget deal is reached or another appropriation agreement is made.
Coast Guard civilians have been on furlough or working without pay since the shutdown began Dec. 22, 2018.
Speaking to local Coast Guard service members about the shut down — or even finding out how many Coast Guard members live in Hampton Roads — proved impossible, as the communications office for the Fifth Coast Guard District in Portsmouth said they were unable get basic information to the media because of the shutdown.
“We’re unfortunately unable to facilitate interviews with the media during the shutdown. We just don’t have the capacity,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Joshua Canup, who works in the Coast Guard’s external affairs office in Portsmouth.
Canup also wrote via email the Coast Guard was “unable to gain an accurate number to quote with regards to (Coast Guard service members in) the Hampton Roads area.”
Canup added “the lapse in appropriation currently affects more than 55,000 Coast Guard active duty, reserve, and civilian employees” nationwide.
In his letter Tuesday, Schultz wrote he recognized “the anxiety and uncertainty” the government shutdown places on members of the Coast Guard, and “we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf.”
The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Board is also offering increased interest-free loans to junior employees and junior enlisted service members.