Government shutdown affecting citizen-soldiers

As United States citizens, we are no strangers to federal government shutdowns. 


I’m a student currently in my sophomore year at Grambling State University. For the past five years beginning December 2013 I’ve also been a soldier in the United States Army; Louisiana National Guard. With that being said, this is not the first time I’ve had to endure a government shutdown. I can recall one summer during our Annual Training, there was a federal government shutdown and we of course heard about it and that stirred up some emotions. To add insult to injury, we were voluntered to go on with training without being paid. So, there were people, including myself, who were expecting those payments for bills and other expenses that we weren’t able to move forward on resulting from the shutdown. Furthermore, that paycheck may have been the main or only source of income a lot of people. Our families also were counting on those checks as well. So, needless to say, there was a lot of chaos caused financially, emotionally, and mentally. Even with all this, we all still were REQUIRED to train… Without pay. 


Imagine fighting or working for a country that refuses to pay you for your service. It’s insulting, enraging, and completely disrespectful. Especially being a black male and or female in the military; and I know that we aren’t the only ones affected by this. 


I come from a family that has used and still uses government assistance. I worry for not only myself and fellow soldiers, but also people who use government assistance or have government jobs, I worry about all those that are affected by this shut down. I feel that it’s unfair, irresponsible and cold. There are also some concerns with college students although it has been said there is little to no effect on college students in reference to refunds and grants. As relieving as this may be for most college students, there are some of us who are receiving funding from military. Specifically speaking, I receive something called “Tuition Exemption.” For those of you that aren’t quite sure what that is, it is when the Army National Guard pays tuition for a soldier to any school within that state in which they enlisted. So when these shutdowns happen, myself and others have to deal with the stress of it affecting my college career as well. 


We are 27 days and counting into this shutdown. To better help you understand not only how it affects people who work for the government but the United States as a whole. 


Here are some issues we face due to the shutdown according to USA Today, “It takes time and planning – which means money – to shutdown the federal government and to eventually bring it back to life.” I feel that that’s almost entirely counterproductive but I digress. 


A federal government shutdown also hurts the economy as a whole – which costs us all. This also includes things such as interest penalties. There is something known as the Prompt Payment Act which requires that the government pay its bills within 30 days. Additionally, there’s also the Cash Management Improvement Act requires that grants and funds for financial assistance programs be provided to the states on time. 


If the government fails to honor this then the federal government will likely owe interest penalties to states and to contractors.