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Shutdown impacts persist for sailors

Oct. 14, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
During the shutdown's second week, the Navy resolved many of the most pressing personnel issues that had arisen, such as the thousands of sailors missing their bonuses. But the shutdown still complicated countless programs and left some sailors underpaid.
During the shutdown's second week, the Navy resolved many of the most pressing personnel issues that had arisen, such as the thousands of sailors missing their bonuses. But the shutdown still complicated countless programs and left some sailors underpaid. (Navy)
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Continuing coverage

Shutdown Crisis
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PCS PROBLEMS CONTINUE
Besides putting the brakes on permanent change-of-station orders as of Oct. 1, the government stalemate has caused hardships for some service members who already had orders and were in the process of moving, according to reports from the military relief societies and the moving industry.
Some sailors and Marines trying to do Personally Procured Moves (formerly do-it-yourself, or DITY, moves) haven’t been able to get advance payments, so the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is providing loans, said Cheri Nylen, director of casework for that relief society. Case workers have been helping with other advance pays for PCS moves, such as housing allowances, she said.
Service members trying to get to intermediate schools, or graduating from intermediate schools and trying to get to their first duty station, had problems with their PCS travel not being funded, Nylen said. “We’ve been helping them get to their destination,” she said. The Navy’s guidance says that PCS moves “involving intermediate training” can’t begin.
The National Military Family Association reported uncertainty during the first week of the shutdown about whether moves would take place if the service member had orders. Generally, service members with orders dated before Oct. 1, using the previous fiscal year’s dollars, can still move.
According to the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, which manages the physical aspects of household goods moves for all branches of services, 5,890 moves had been booked between Oct. 1 and noon Oct. 9.
“That’s tracking normal for this period,” SDDC spokesman Mitch Chandran said.
A problem with the technology — unrelated to the shutdown — may have contributed to some difficulties, Chandran said. U.S. Transportation Command officials made a change Aug. 30 that intermittently affected service members’ ability to book move dates, and the ability of moving companies to get paid. The glitches were fixed on Sept. 17.
But the backlog from those problems hadn’t cleared before the shutdown, said Scott Michael, vice president of military and government affairs for the American Moving and Storage Association. It was an estimated $110 million just before the shutdown, he said.
“We don’t have a new estimate, but think the shutdown made it worse,” Michael said.
— Karen Jowers

During the shutdown’s second week, the Navy resolved many of the most pressing personnel issues that had arisen, such as the thousands of sailors missing their bonuses. The Pentagon finally received its payroll money and authorization to pay it. Plus, the return of Defense Department civilians re-started many shuttered programs on which sailors rely, such as housing offices and Navy College centers.

But the shutdown still complicated countless programs and left some sailors underpaid. Here are some of the biggest developments:

* Bonuses paid. Sailors started to receive their re-up bonus payments eight days late, many relieved that they’d be able to able to pay bills and buy holiday gifts as planned. Among them was Leah Washington, a Navy spouse, who told Navy Times her husband received his missing SRB payment worth more than $5,000 on Oct. 9; she planned to use it to pay their car and property insurance bills. Navy officials said sailors who haven’t received missing bonuses by today should alert their command and personnel support detachment to get the problem fixed.

* Promotion pay missing. Fully 582 newly promoted officers were not paid at their new rank because the shutdown impaired Defense Finance and Accounting Services’ capacity to update their pay and allowance levels. This also affects November promotions, should the shutdown continue into that month.

All these officers will be paid in full eventually, the chief of naval personnel said on the Navy’s official blog.

* Reserve pay withheld. As long as the shutdown goes on, Navy reservists will not be paid for inactive-duty training, officials warned.

* No delay for advancement results. The Navy plans to release this fall’s petty officer advancements as scheduled, now that the civilians are back at work and able to process the exams.

* Boards stalled. All statutory and administrative boards set for October have been deferred because of the shutdown, with the exception of the aviation major command boards slated for the end of the month.

* Up for orders. The shutdown delayed the negotiation window for sailors up for orders in October. The online career management system was down due to the shutdown, but officials say the system should be available Oct. 16-24.

* Travel reduced. Sailors on temporary assignments were ordered back to their commands and some permanent change-of-station moves were put on hold, unless they’d already begun or were paid with the previous fiscal year’s funds.

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