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Shutdown Could Affect Young Troops Most, Gates Says

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, April 7, 2011 – While emphasizing that service members eventually will receive the pay they would earn during a government shutdown, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates acknowledged here today that if the government shuts down for a week starting tomorrow, their mid-month paychecks would include only the pay they earned for the first week of the month.

During a visit with U.S. Division Center soldiers at Camp Liberty, the first question posed to the secretary concerned the possibility of a government shutdown and the effect it would have on service members’ pay.

“Over time, they won’t lose anything,” the secretary told reporters after the visit. “But you all know as well as I do that a lot of these young troops live pretty much paycheck to paycheck, and when I start to think about the inconvenience that it’s going to cause these kids and a lot of their families, even half a paycheck delayed can be a problem for them.

“So I hope they work this whole thing out,” he added.

Shouts of “Hooah!” rang out among the 175 soldiers gathered for the secretary’s visit when Gates began his answer to a question about the possible shutdown by saying, “First of all, let me say you will be paid.”

Gates joked that as a historian, it always has occurred to him that “a smart thing for government is always to pay the guys with the guns first.” But he then explained how the shutdown would affect the soldiers’ pay.

“Based on some stuff I read this morning, if the government shutdown starts on the 8th and goes for a week, you’d get half a check,” he said. “If it goes from the 15th to the 30th, you wouldn’t get a paycheck on the 30th, but you would be back-paid for all of it [when the government resumes operations].”

Service members are paid on the first and the 15th day of each month.

Gates told the soldiers he knows that could present a tough situation for them.

“Frankly, I remember when I was your age, I did a lot of living from paycheck to paycheck,” he said, “and so I hope this thing doesn’t happen, because I know it’ll be an inconvenience for a lot of troops.”


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Robert M. Gates

Related Sites:
Special Report: Travels With Gates
Video: Gates Arrives in Iraq
Video: Gates Answers Troops' Questions


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The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

4/8/2011 12:28:34 AM
INCONVIENENCE??????? Have you lost your mind?????? yeah maybe the member will be inconvienenced but what about the children they have abandoned that wont get their child support. I know we will end up homeless and HUNGRY AGAIN!!!!!!!!!! (this isnt the first time DOD has messed up and caused us to lose our home!) Only this time I wont be able to put the pieces back together since I am disabled and will end up dying without my medication leaving my daughter not only fatherless but motherless! But, I am sure you wont print the truth about these issues will you???? The truth always seems to evade you guys......
- Kathleen C., Yuma, AZ

4/7/2011 11:39:57 PM
Inconvenience....that doesnt begin to ammount to what a stop pay would do to the families around here. Those of us that have mortgages to pay could lose homes. I have a family of 6 who barely makes it in this economy on one e-4 paycheck. When that one paycheck disapears and then we're told that we cant take that "non payment" time to do other jobs to support our families without the threat of jail time and UCMJ action it feels more like enprisonment. The military that fights for this country shouldnt be the ones watching their families suffer at the hands of those they are defending.
- SPC. Tabatha White, copperas cove tx

4/7/2011 11:36:43 PM
Ummm... it's will be MORE THAN "an inconvenience"... easy to turn the money off, but how is it going to fix all the problems that the lack of pay would create???
- mamabell, United States

4/7/2011 5:58:30 PM
Correction is needed to a common misconception above: Service members are paid on the 15th and the last day of the month. The government pays AFTER the work has been done, just like VA disability is paid on the 1st working day of the following month. Most people confuse this and it can create a huge headache trying to explain it to someone who is used to hearing "the 1st and 15th" and is then upset when they don't see a raise from a promotion or whatever on the expected pay period. Hope that can help clarify for those who didn't know!
- Erin, USA

4/7/2011 5:36:47 PM
Soldiers will not get all their pay back. The inconvenience of losing pay for any period of time will cause more than just a temporary loss of pay. Soldiers could get charged late fee's for loans or credit cards that they have to pay. Is the government going to pay for those fee's incurred because these soldiers are unable to pay their bills on time. I think not!!!!!! What about the soldiers who have families. How are they supposed to provide for them? How are soldiers supposed to pay for gas for their vehicles to get to and from work being they still have to report. This is pure ignorance. Congress should be the ones going without pay instead.
- Kyle, Fort Richardson, AK

4/7/2011 3:04:09 PM
So will the soliders be compinsated for not having there paychecks ontime? This effects morgages ect being paid ontime.
- jamie, oregon

4/7/2011 10:52:50 AM
As the Ombudsman for a command here in Virginia Beach I have been feliding many phone calls in regards to the pay issues currently at hand. Many of our sailors have bills to pay and if there is a delay in the pay to them how are they to explain to those seeking payment for a car or a credit card that they have no payment this month because our govenrment didn't pay them? Will these agencies be willing to waive late fees and the extra expenses that will be incurred due to late payments from these men and women? I am also concerned that many of our service members will not have the money to feed their families if this happens...where do we turn then? The government doesn't seem to take into consideration that even though the Representaitives from both sides will still be living comfrotably and getting paid..our service members will be struggling.
- DeAnna Moreland, Virginia Beach, VA

4/7/2011 10:25:21 AM
An inconvience??? It will cripple most famlies!
- Marie, indiana

4/7/2011 9:18:23 AM
This would be more than an inconvenience to those young families. It could be a huge problem. They could very well be reported as having late payments, missed payments, and very well not have enough money for basic essentials. If this happens, these families are hurt long term with credit scores. So while all will get paid eventually, the long term damage could already be done. I hope that creditors will look favorably at these young families.
- Diane, Dahlgren, VA

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