Private companies and individuals are stepping up to help Coast Guard members get through the Trump. shutdown, but it's simply not enough.
Over the weekend, Trump hit a milestone: the dubious distinction of being the architect of the longest shutdown ever. Then, this week, he managed to rack up another ignominious achievement: United States service members in the Coast Guard are going without pay for the first time. Other countries expect their military to serve without pay, but those are places like North Korea.
Service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines are currently getting paid. However, the Coast Guard is funded through the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Department of the Defense, and only the former is defunded during this shutdown.
Thankfully, private citizens and corporations are stepping up to make sure that members of the Coast Guard receive some pay, food, and more.
The largest donation came from United Services Automobile Association (USAA), an insurance and financial services firm for service members and their families. They've provided $15 million. That money will go toward giving interest-free loans to Coast Guard members, a vital lifeline at this time.
However, that money only goes so far. Coast Guard members with dependents are eligible for loans up to $1,000, while members without dependents can get $750. At most, it is estimated to help cover two weeks of financial shortfalls thanks to the shutdown, and not for all members. The Coast Guard expects the payroll costs for that stretch at $150 million.
In Alameda, California, residents of that Bay Area community donated enough food to feed over 600 Coast Guard personnel and there's another food donation coming up next weekend. USO Wisconsin, a military support organization, is collecting gift cards to support the Coast Guard members that are breaking ice and doing rescue operations on the freezing Great Lakes.
It's heartening to see people come together to support the Coast Guard. But it's also wholly unnecessary. Service members are going without pay because Trump is throwing a weeks-long tantrum about his wall. People aren't going to be able to make it by stringing together donations and having garage sales or babysitting.
Published with permission of The American Independent.