A group of former senior Coast Guard officers denounced government leaders in a Military.com op-ed for requiring members of the Coast Guard to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.
Friday’s commentary, written by four former master chiefs with a collective 127 years of service, details how active officers are having to rely on food banks set up by military support organizations and how recruits who just graduated from the training center don’t have the money to travel to their first duty stations.
Government leaders, the former master chiefs write, have been “derelict” in upholding the duties of their offices as the shutdown inches into its fifth week.
No one joins the military to get rich. Contrary to popular belief, the pay is not high, particularly at the entry-level pay grades. In fact, the base pay of more than 14,000 junior members of the Coast Guard (which is about one-third of the active-duty workforce) is considered at or just below the established poverty level. Most of these members do not have the resources to go without pay over any extended period of time.
“They don’t deserve to have their pay held hostage by their own government leadership,” the former officers wrote.
The four writers ― Rick Trent, Vincent Patton, Frank Welch and Skip Bowen ― held the post of master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard, the service’s senior enlisted member, one after the other from 1994 to 2010.
On Thursday, a former Coast Guard commandant also berated President Donald Trump and Congress over the shutdown, calling the budget impasse “disgraceful” and “insulting” to those working without pay.
“It’s an extraordinary ask of this political establishment to tell them, ‘Go to work, we’re not paying you, your families are at risk, and we don’t know when it’s going to be over,’” retired Adm. Thad Allen, a beloved figure in the Coast Guard community, told HuffPost. “That’s not responsible government.”