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Coast Guard deploys around the world, as shutdown creates financial insecurity at home

Funded by the Department of Homeland Security, which is affected by the government shutdown, the U.S. Coast Guard is the only branch of the U.S. military currently working without pay. But crews have still been deploying, and as Judy Woodruff reports, that can mean their families are left at home for months without a paycheck.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And for more on what the government shutdown means in practical terms, an update now on the U.S. Coast Guard.

    More than 42,000 Coast Guard personnel missed a paycheck earlier this month, making it the only branch of the U.S. military to work without pay. That's because the Coast Guard is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, whose funding is tied up in the shutdown debate.

    Yet crews are still deploying on national security operations. Just this weekend, the crew of the cutter Bertholf departed Alameda, California, for a five-month patrol to the Western Pacific Ocean, due to heightened tensions with China. The crew and their families are under stress.

    In a tweet, Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz wrote: "Our USCG members sail across the world to protect U.S. national interests, while their loved ones cope with financial challenges and no pay at home."

    He also tweeted out this video produced by the Coast Guard. It included this message from Vice Admiral Linda Fagan, a Pacific area commander.

  • Linda Fagan:

    During these uncertain times of the lapse of appropriations of the government shutdown, I know it's hard for these crews to be leaving behind their dependents and spouses.

    It's 1,000 times more so when everybody's wondering when their next paycheck will be and how they can support the family that they are leaving behind. There has been an incredible outpouring of support for the families here, here in the Alameda area, but the tension and the anxiety for the crew is real.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Without legislative action, or an end to the partial shutdown, Coast Guard members will miss their second paycheck on January 30, and retirees will start missing out on benefits next month.

    Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat, spoke on the Senate floor today about the Coast Guard.

  • Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.:

    They're deploying for multiple months and they're saying goodbye to their families, but their families who live in and around Alameda — it's not necessarily cheap — they're going to have to keep paying rent bills and things while their Coastie, as they call themselves, is deployed, and yet they're not being paid.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    According to the Coast Guard, an estimated 31 percent of active-duty members do not have enough money in an emergency savings fund to cover one month's worth of expenses.

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