CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Families of Coast Guard members are being impacted as the partial government shutdown goes into its seventh day.
Charleston is home to a large Coast Guard base, USCG Sector Charleston, as well as several training centers. Many families have made their homes in Charleston temporarily because of constantly having to move around.
The Coast Guard is the only U.S. military brach that could go without pay because it falls under the Department of Homeland security. All other branches fall under the Department of Defense.
This means members stationed in Charleston are part of the 42,000 active-duty coast guard members that are having to report to work without getting paid. Some workers have also been furloughed.
Misty Gilbert said in previous government shutdowns have included the Coast Guard was included in the Department of Defense, but this is the first time they weren’t included.
“This is the first time we are dealing with not getting paid and still working,” Gilbert said. “We’re staying in and cutting corners whenever we can.”
Gilbert is one of many Coast Guard spouses in Charleston, trying to figure out what to do next. Her husband is constantly working months at a time, and she stays home to take care of their son.
Jennifer Mullen and Sandra Kulesza also have husbands in the Coast Guard. All of them have children and are trying to save as much money as they can, until their husbands can get their paychecks.
Kulesza wants people to know that just because they’re military, doesn’t mean they get free food, housing, and extra spending money. They said they have to pay a lot of things themselves and with their spouses still having to work without knowing when they’ll get paid, things are especially tough.
Kulesza said, “You have member to member marriages where neither one is getting a paycheck, they both have to report to work, and they still have to pay child care to do it and those things aren’t funded.”
The wives are hoping that their families, along with other Coast Guard families, will be able to get back on track when the government reopens. Mullen also wants people to realize what sacrifices Coast Guard make, and although they don’t have the same numbers as other military branches, she said she just wants equal treatment.
Unless an agreement is reached on a border-wall funding, President Trump has warned that the shutdown could continue into 2019.