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Shutdown hits Marine Corps base services

Oct. 1, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Fitness centers and gym services have been curtailed because of the government shutdown. Above, a Marine works out at the fitness center aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., in 2011.
Fitness centers and gym services have been curtailed because of the government shutdown. Above, a Marine works out at the fitness center aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., in 2011. (Cpl. Courtney C. White / Marine Corps)
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Editor’s note: The Navy and Marine Corps have reversed course less than 24-hours after announcing that service members would receive basic, but not special pays during the government shutdown. In fact, Marines —and servicemembers throughout the Defense Department — will continue to receive all types of pay including hazardous duty and imminent danger pay.

A variety of base services and special pays will be suspended across the Marine Corps as a result of the federal government shutdown that took effect Tuesday.

While basic military pay and “essential” services are unaffected by the budget impasse in Washington, base libraries, swimming pools, education centers and commissaries area among those outlets that will see operating hours reduced or halted altogether. Additionally, Marines who qualify for financial incentives such as imminent-danger and hazardous-duty pay won’t see that cash again until the shutdown ends, Marine officials said.

A big uncertainty is the Marine Corps’ popular tuition assistance program. Marine officials say personnel who have TA are allowed to use it, but the civilian employees who process new applications have been furloughed as a result of the shutdown. So while the program is still authorized, it’s essentially stalled. That’s the same story in the Army, Air Force and Navy, too.

Fitness centers and gym services also have been curtailed. While many gyms remain open to personnel wanting to use equipment, organized classes have been canceled.

“While the continuation of [basic] pay removed the worst penalty from Marines and their families, the shutdown, coming on top of sequestration, creates unnecessary uncertainty, hampers training and operations, shutters services, and negatively affects the Corps’ mission, Marines, civilians and their families in a significant way,” said Capt. Maureen Krebs, referring to the across-the-board budget cuts already driving reductions across the fleet.

Marine officials issued an force-wide administrative message Tuesday saying families “should plan accordingly.”

The list of affected services varies from base to base. Only those deemed vital will remain open, including police, fire, emergency medical response, child development centers and post exchanges.

Non-essential civilian personnel were ordered to report to work Tuesday so they could be placed in a furlough status.

“Employees not excepted from furlough will be provided official notification and allowed three to four hours to shutdown operations as follows,” the administrative message says: “Secure personally identifiable information data, set voice mail, set out of office email, secure officer area [turn off appliances], submit any outstanding travel vouchers, turn off computers.”

Officials are encouraging Marines and their families to consult their local Marine Corps Community Services websites for complete listings of closures and cancellations.

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