The commandant of the US Coast Guard called the ongoing partial government shutdown “unacceptable” following reports that some Coast Guardsmen are relying on donations from food pantries while their regular paychecks remain on hold.
“We’re five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay,” Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message to service members. “You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden.”
While Schultz praised the “outpouring of support” from local communities who have donated daily essentials, he sharply criticized the situation and said he would “continue to seek solutions” on Capitol Hill.
“But ultimately, I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members,” Schultz said.
“This will end. We will get through this,” Master Chief Petty Officer Jason Vanderhaden added.
In a statement to Coast Guard service members last week, Schutlz offered his support after receiving word their paychecks were delayed.
“Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck,” Schutlz said in a statement.
“I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf,” he added.
Around 800,000 federal employees and contractors are affected by the longest government shutdown in US history. The Coast Guard, which operates under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security, was reportedly not able to pay around 42,000 active-duty service members last week.
The shutdown, which has been ongoing for more than a month, marks the first time a branch of the military was not paid.
Around 3,500 Coast Guardsmen in Washington and Oregon are reportedly affected by the shutdown, the majority of whom are working without pay. Food banks have been operating to support the service members, similar to those that have sprouted up in other areas of the nation for federal employees and contractors.
President Donald Trump, who is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a barrier on the US-Mexico border, faces opposition from a Democratic-majority House, who have refused to pass any funding bill that includes spending on the barrier.