Coast Guard Families Feeling Shutdown Stress

Baihly Warfield
Updated: January 16, 2019 07:49 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - While her husband is working for the Coast Guard, Kate Conway works part-time while also caring for their 2-year-old son. But a part-time income doesn't cover all of their expenses. 


"My income will cover our rent and some of our bills, but it's not going to cover child care, and it's not going to cover food," Conway said. 

She is among hundreds of Coast Guard spouses and families feeling the pinch as they missed their first paycheck. 

"Through no fault of our own, we're having to scramble and figure out what we're going to do," she said. 

Randa Binns, another Coast Guard wife and mother of five, said she felt the shutdown came unexpectedly.

"All of us are feeling this, and we're all reacting differently," Binns said.

She says her reaction tends to be tearful and emotional about it and that she has done her fair share of crying lately. 

"It's daunting because so we're having to get loans," she said. "Luckily, the Navy Federal has a 0 percent loan for Coast Guard members right now."

The four other branches of the military are under the Department of Defense, so their members are getting paid. But the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security. 

"So they're not getting paid, but they're in our waters, protecting us," Binns said.

Conway served in the Coast Guard herself for six years, and she feels the branch is being disrespected. 

"Whatever optimism we sort of had left that this system could work for everyday people is kind of not there," Conway said. "Maybe there's a shard. But I think our faith is more in people than it is in our governmental system."

Binns says she and her husband haven't kept the shutdown struggles a secret from their kids. Her two oldest, Madison and Peyton, earn money shoveling sidewalks in the winter. 

"They just hear us talking, and they're like, 'We're going to start giving you some of our shoveling money,'" she said. 

She has an interview for a night job at a hotel on Friday, and her husband already picked up a second job at a Hermantown apartment building. So she wants others to know the shutdown is more than politics. It is real people's lives. 

"This is huge. I mean, I'm a 30-year-old college-educated woman, and I'm having to call back home asking for money to be able to maintain this house that I bought," she said. 

Conway said she hopes no one is ashamed to ask for help during this time. 

"There is a lot of pride among Coasties and all military personnel. We choose to serve because we want to serve. That's in us. That's part of who we are," Conway said. 

But it's disheartening to be in the situation they are in. 

"To have an entire branch of military service not getting paid, an entire branch of people that care and serve this country, not being paid for their work, is a disgrace," Conway said.


Baihly Warfield

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