Food or Rent? Government Shutdown Will Force Soldiers and Military Families to Choose

Last Updated Apr 8, 2011 3:56 PM EDT

Will the government shut down today? As of this minute, it could go either way.

Though the crisis may yet be averted, the threat of a government shutdown in the absence of a bipartisan Congressional budget deal could be become reality as early as midnight tonight.

Everyone agrees that rerunning this movie from 1995 would harm millions of people and their families, while damaging a still-fragile economy. But naturally, the people in charge of resolving this imbroglio, namely our elected officials, will enjoy uninterrupted paychecks.

Unfortunately, that nice bit of financial news doesn't apply to our loyal military personnel and civilian contractors, who are already making the "ultimate sacrifice."

CNN is reporting that troops will not be paid in the event of a shutdown, but would still be required to work due to national security concerns. The promise of back-pay once government operations resume is not enough to console soldiers and their families, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck.


How do you tell your child you can't put food on the table because the rent or mortgage check is due today?

For many military families, the choice of buying food or paying the rent or mortgage is at the front door.

Although the National Association of Realtors confirms that the VA Loan Guaranty Program would be able to process and guaranty mortgages should bureaucracy come to a screeching halt, that's small consolation. The FHA, a much larger player in the mortgage arena for military families (not to mention the rest of America), would be cut off at the knees.

Many military families are speaking out about the injustice of having to survive without their rightful paychecks due to what amounts to partisan squabbling. CNN quotes Erica Roach, whose husband serves in the Navy as saying, "We sacrifice enough already."

The Daily Chronicle spoke with Krystel Spell, another military spouse living in North Carolina, who notes the hypocrisy of the situation: "We hear so much, 'We support our troops, we support our troops' ... but the very backbone, the people that are protecting us aren't going to get paid."

It is estimated that 800,000 federal workers would suddenly find themselves suspended without pay. Here's who else would be affected:


  • Tax refund checks will not be mailed
  • Small-business loan applications would stall.
  • Mortgage loans wouldn't close.
  • Passport applications will be delayed.
  • Health and safety inspections will be postponed.
In short, pretty much every American citizen not working on Capitol Hill would take a hit.

How do you feel about the impending government shutdown? Should lawmakers be required to do right by soldiers and other Federal workers?


More on MoneyWatch:
  • Ilyce Glink On Twitter»

    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns ThinkGlink.com, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.