PHOTO CAPTION: Rosemary Freitas Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy
October 1, 2013
By Rosemary Freitas Williams
Our service members, their families and survivors have responded brilliantly to all that’s been asked of them, especially since the start of combat operations well over ten years ago. They have and deserve our respect and support for continuing to serve honorably despite the many challenges associated with the vibrant military lifestyle.
Unfortunately, as we all are now aware, another one of those challenges that all of us will have to contend with is the government shutdown.
The government shutdown will affect quality of life, family support, and child and youth programs that service members and families value. The purpose of this blog post is to provide guidance as to what to expect regarding the operating status of these programs while the government is shut down:
•Military OneSource: The Military OneSource website and call center will remain fully operational. Military OneSource is a Defense-wide program that promotes the quality of life of service members and their families by delivering information, referrals, confidential counseling and other services in-person, online and by telephone. The service is available worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost to the user and regardless of the service member’s activation status. Visit their website or call 800-342-9647.
•Child Development Centers (CDCs): Contact your local CDC/installation for details/guidance.
•Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA): Schools will remain open.
•The Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC) program: Will continue uninterrupted. The MFLCs will perform routine functions. If an MFLC is unable to access the installation during a shutdown, they will work offsite until they are able to access the installation.
•Military Exchanges will be open world-wide.
•Commissaries will remain open overseas. Stateside commissaries, including Alaska and Hawaii, will be open for a full business day on Oct. 1 to reduce the amount of perishables on-hand. Read the press release from the Defense Commissary Agency for more details.
•Family Support Centers: Staffing will be determined by installation commanders.
•Family Advocacy Program: Each Service will determine staffing at each installation.
•MWR – Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Programs /nonappropriated fund activities/other operations necessary to support “excepted activities” (i.e. – activities/programs that will not affected by furlough/shutdown) will continue. Examples of these excepted activities are: operation of dining facilities, physical training, and child care activities required to support readiness.
•Education Centers for Family members and Service members: Will be closed. This includes counseling services, testing centers, learning centers and computer labs. Tuition assistance will not be authorized or granted for new classes.
•My Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA): No financial assistance requests will be approved until further notice. However, all spouses with an already approved financial assistance request prior to Oct. 1, 2013 will have their approved requests honored so they can attend class. In addition, Spouse Education and Career Opportunities counselors will continue to be available to provide comprehensive education and career counseling services. Please call the SECO Career Center at 800-342-9647 or visit the SECO website and continue to monitor the MyCAA portal for updates regarding when financial assistance will once again be available for approval.
It’s important to keep in mind that operating hours and status may vary at the local installation level. You can get addresses and phone numbers for installation and state resources available to active duty, National Guard and reserve service and family members at the Military Installations website.
We recognize the incredible commitment and contributions of our military families. Here at Military Community and Family Policy, we are working with the Military Services to keep as many doors open as possible during the government shutdown, operating within the fiscal guidance passed down from the highest levels of DoD leadership, so families may continue to be empowered and thrive amidst these most recent challenges.