Sunday, February 25, 2024

Hampton Roads Coast Guard not getting paid — first time in U.S. History

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.”

Schultz added Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, the service’s official military relief society, received a $15 million donation from USAA to support those in need.

The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Board is also offering increased interest-free loans to junior employees and junior enlisted service members.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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