Here’s how a government shutdown will affect U.S. military members and families

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Congress is spiraling towards another government shutdown which will occur officially at midnight tonight unless a spending deal is reached.

All non-essential government functions will be wound down, such as federal parks, tourist attractions and some federal agencies.

The U.S. military will still be on the job — at home and overseas — but they will no longer be getting paid until a funding deal is reached. And there’s no law that says Congress has to authorize backpay.

The last time this happened was in 2013.

Here are some of the ways active duty members and their families can be affected by a shutdown:

Pay. Active-duty military personnel generally report to work during a shutdown regardless of whether their command is considered “essential,” but military personnel generally wouldn’t be paid until the shutdown ends. This could change if Congress passes a law that requires the military to be paid during the shutdown, as they it in 2013.

Retired pay is not affected. It comes from a different pot of money.

PCS and TDY. In 2013, permanent change-of-station moves and temporary duty travel were canceled except for service members traveling to activities and operations determined to be essential to national security.

Health care. In 2013, military treatment facilities remained open to care for existing patients and provide emergency services and acute care. Routine appointments and elective surgery were suspended, but pharmacy, laboratory and radiology services continued. All care through off-base civilian Tricare providers was unchanged.

Commissaries. DoD hasn’t notified commissary officials yet about whether they will have to close any stores, Defense Commissary Agency spokesman Kevin Robinson said. Commissaries were closed during the 2013 shutdown, except for overseas stores.

If there is a shutdown, the commissaries forced to close will follow an orderly procedure to allow store staffs to reduce stocks of perishables, safeguard equipment and facilities, and make other necessary preparations, he said.

Exchanges. They won’t close, because they don’t rely on taxpayer dollars. But they do try to ease some of the strain on the customers affected by commissary closures.

DoD schools. Based on past experience, the Department of Defense Education Activity is planning that their 166 DoD schools overseas and stateside, and eight district offices around the world, would be allowed to continue to operate.

Death gratuities. These $100,000 payments might not be made immediately to the designated survivor of a service member who dies on active duty.

Child care. This might be a mixed bag: In 2013, each installation determined whether child development centers continued to operate.

More MWR. In the past, MWR activities that are funded entirely by nonappropriated funds, not by taxpayer dollars, weren’t affected by the shutdown.

DoD civilians. In 2013, about 400,000 DoD civilians ― including military spouses, veterans and retirees ― were furloughed. [source]

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