Coast Guard offers tips to cope with shutdown
Holding a garage sale, babysitting among suggestions to bring in some extra cash
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.
While most of the U.S. military is unaffected, about 42,000 Coast Guard members are working without pay.