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JBLM families brace for shutdown; Army and VA hospitals to stay open

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on April 8, 2011 at 11:58 am with 6 Comments »
April 8, 2011 2:29 pm

1:30 p.m. update: Madigan Army Medical Center will stay open through a shut down, but mostly for emergencies, urgent mental health services and pregnancy care. Madigan officials are posting updates online at the hospital’s Facebook page.

Here’s the hospital’s official announcement:

Madigan Healthcare System will primarily limit services to inpatient care, urgent and emergency outpatient care, as well as urgent behavioral health care or crisis intervention.  Some services will remain open such as those for dialysis, hematology and oncology.  All pregnancy care will continue, but pharmacy services will be limited.  Routine, wellness and specialty appointments, to include elective surgery, will be cancelled.  The appointment line at 1-800-404-4506 will remain open for beneficiaries to inquire about their appointments and for those in need of urgent “non-emergency” care.  Medical care on the TRICARE network will continue.

2 p.m. update: The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that hospitals and health care will not be impacted by a government shut down. All in-patient care, out-patient care, pharmacy services, surgeries, dental treatment, extended care and nursing home operations will continue as normal.

Some VA services will be impacted, however. They include human resources, decisions on appeals for benefits and a halt on processing new claims for pensions and benefits. For more, go here.

Military families in the South Sound are bracing for tighter pay checks next week as the Pentagon prepares for a possible government shutdown this weekend.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told soldiers this week their next paychecks would be for half the usual amount, straining budgets for young, enlisted soldiers who typically live paycheck to paycheck.

“It’s very scary. How am I supposed to feed my kids,” asked Sheena Renee Switzer, 23. Her husband is a specialist assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where they live with their three children. They expect to clear just $300 next week.

Switzer and a friend are making long lists of groceries they intend to buy at base commissary today because they worry it’ll close, too. They plan to make big meals for their families to share until the husbands’ salaries are restored.

“A lot of starches,” she said.

Switzer fears that Congress’ budget fight will drag out and military families won’t get paid at all by the start of next month. That has her worried not only about her family, but the country as well.

“With the media broadcasting all of this are we going to be at a greater risk of terrorist attacks? How can you not pay your military?” she asked.


Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. Adam Ashton says:

    Here’s some good news. The post exchange at least will stay open through the shutdown.

    Here’s a press release from the Army and Air Force Exchange:

    DALLAS – The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is planning to continue operations even if the U.S. Government shuts down.

    On April 9, the current budget authorization will expire. At that point, the federal government will potentially institute a mandatory shutdown for “non-essential” personnel.

    While this action impacts the government, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is largely unaffected. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund instrumentality. This means the majority of its budget does not rely on tax dollars.

    “While the federal government shuts down, business at the Exchange remains largely unchanged. However, some transactions may be delayed, such as the purchase of firearms which require background checks or other federal government actions,” said Col. Virgil Williams, Chief of Staff for the Exchange.

    As a matter of course, the Department of Defense plans for contingencies. In fact, since 1980, all agencies have had to have a plan in case of a government shutdown, and these plans are updated routinely.

    “The Exchange will do everything we have to do to continue to support the deployed troops,” Williams said.

  2. TEA party to troops: eat dog food.

  3. If I hear the gutless “taking care of soldiers” one more time I think I will vomit. We send these great American’s into harms way give them more than enough to worry about in these hell holes and then say “oh by the way we are not going to pay you”… You figure out how to pay the rent, buy the food and diapers but don’t worry we’re “taking care of soldiers”

  4. ClassyLady says:

    This is outrageous! Stop paying all our elected officials, the president and all his appointed staff, but our troops need to receive their pay and benefits on time and without any interuption whatsoever due to the political game playing. Please contact your elected officials via phone and email now. If this is not resolved now our soldiers will get only half their pay checks this month and perhaps none next. This is absolutely unacceptable, not a rumor and a very imminent problem. It’s not time to think or talk about it, send a SHOUT about it, via facebook, emails, phone calls. I’m having a hard time understanding why President Obama would rather make sure abortions are funded in DC than pay our soldiers. Help protect the livelihood of those who are putting their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. Speak up now! Here is a link to the contact info for elected officials.

  5. nineinchnostrils the military was always considered essential government services up . When the last shutdown occurred under Clinton they were payed. This administration has changed this. additionally he has rebuffed any attempts to exempt them from additional burden that was proposed to exempt the troops.

    IF they eat dogfood it will fall squarely on his shoulders…..

  6. I don’t understand this. I thought President Obama went on tv to say the shutdown wasn’t going to happen. I don’t understand why or how it could shut down anyway. Do they do this in any other country?

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