Coast Guard of­fers tips to cope with shut­down

Hold­ing a garage sale, babysit­ting among sug­ges­tions to bring in some ex­tra cash

StarMetro Halifax - - CANADA & WORLD - Dan Lamothe THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Em­ploy­ees of the U.S. Coast Guard who are fac­ing a long U.S. gov­ern­ment shut­down just re­ceived a sug­ges­tion: To get by with­out pay, con­sider hold­ing a garage sale, babysit­ting or serv­ing as a “mys­tery shop­per.”

The sug­ges­tions were part of a five-page tip sheet pub­lished by the Coast Guard Sup­port Pro­gram, an em­ployee-as­sis­tance arm of the ser­vice often known as CG SUPRT. It is des­ig­nated to of­fer Coast Guard mem­bers help with men­tal-health is­sues or other con­cerns about their lives, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial well­ness.

The Coast Guard re­ceives fund­ing from the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, and is sub­jected to the shut­ter­ing of parts of the gov­ern­ment along with DHS’S other agen­cies. That stands in con­trast to other mil­i­tary ser­vices, which are part of the De­fense De­part­ment and have fund­ing.

The tip sheet, ti­tled “Man­ag­ing your fi­nances dur­ing a fur­lough,” ap­plies to the Coast Guard’s 8,500-per­son civil­ian work­force. About 6,400 of them are on in­def­i­nite fur­lough, while 2,100 are work­ing with­out pay after be­ing iden­ti­fied as es­sen­tial work­ers, said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Mcbride, a ser­vice spokesper­son. They were last paid for the two-week pe­riod end­ing Dec. 22.

“While it may be un­com­fort­able to deal with the hard facts, it’s best to avoid the ‘hide your head in the sand’ re­ac­tion,” the tip sheet said. “Stay in charge of the sit­u­a­tion by get­ting a clear un­der­stand­ing of what’s hap­pen­ing.”

The Coast Guard re­moved the tip sheet from the sup­port pro­gram’s web­site late Wed­nes­day morn­ing after the Wash­ing­ton Post in­quired about it.

The sug­ges­tions do not “re­flect the Coast Guard’s cur­rent ef­forts to sup­port our work­force dur­ing this lapse in ap­pro­pri­a­tions,” Mcbride said. “As such, this guid­ance has been re­moved.”

The sit­u­a­tion shows the in­creas­ing strain that the ser­vice is un­der as the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down con­tin­ues. About 41,000 ac­tive­duty Coast Guards­men are work­ing with­out pay. Their next check is due Jan. 15.

Over­all, about 420,000 gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees are work­ing un­der the prom­ise they will be paid retroac­tively, with nearly an­other 350,000 on fur­lough at home.

The Coast Guard’s sta­tus as an un­funded mil­i­tary ser­vice in­creas­ingly has be­come a po­lit­i­cal is­sue, as fam­ily mem­bers share their wor­ries about a shut­down with no end in sight amid a po­lit­i­cal dis­pute about U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pro­posed bor­der wall. Coast Guards­men rely not only on pay­cheques, but also now-frozen gov­ern­ment hous­ing al­lowances in or­der to af­ford hous­ing in ex­pen­sive coastal cities where many are as­signed.

DON EM­MERT/AFP/GETTY IM­AGES

While most of the U.S. mil­i­tary is un­af­fected, about 42,000 Coast Guard mem­bers are work­ing with­out pay.

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