A couple of hours ago Congress and President Trump finally put to end (for at least a brief period of time) the longest (35 days) government shutdown in the history of the United States. Regardless of how you feel politically speaking, I think we can all agree that what happened over the last month or so has been the result of the complete failure of our political system. I think we can also agree that this is becoming more and more common. And given that the fighter over the boarder wall and other priorities have only been punted down the road another 3 weeks, I think there is the distinct possibility that we will shut down again very soon.
The DOD (with the exception of the Coast Guard) was fortunate to not be involved in the current funding battle. As best as I can tell, January 15, 2019 was the first time that a military service has not been paid on time due to a government shutdown. For the other services, we are fully funded until Oct 1, 2019. That is 247 days (8 months, 16 paychecks) from now. In the past the military has been relatively lucky to generally receive bipartisan support to get funded even when other portions of the government did now. I don’t know if we can make that assumption with the coming year.
While I make a comfortable living (especially compared to many lower ranking Soldiers), I like many others would been severely hurt if I missed a paycheck. Add the fact that I own a rental property in Kansas that has a Soldier and his family living in it, and the financial hit if we were to miss a paycheck would be significant. I don’t know about you guys but I plan on looking at my finances over the next 8 months and seeing how I can try and build up a bit of a cushion for when the politicians reach another inpass.
I would encourage you as leaders to work with your Soldiers and NCOs and make sure that they plan ahead too as best as they can. Years ago, my wife and I took part in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. I have seen this program offered for free at a number of bases over the years. While I don’t agree with everything that he says, it is really a great program and for a while resulted in us being “debt-free” (ignoring mortgages and car payments). Unfortunately, that didn’t last forever, but it was nice while it lasted.
I don’t know the exact point of writing this piece other then to remind all of us that what was once considered a secure job, may not be as secure as it used to be. It’s in all of our best interest to be ready for when things go to shit again.