CHATHAM — It’s not exactly business as usual at Coast Guard Station Chatham, but when it comes to their core missions – search and rescue, maritime security, law enforcement and environmental response – they are, as always, ready to respond during the partial government shutdown.
While the funding lapse does not affect most branches of the military, the Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security. Its members remain at their posts despite not having been paid since Dec. 31.
“The Coast Guard continues operations authorized by law that provide for national security or that protect life and property during partial government shutdowns; however, there are some impacts to our day-to-day operations. The Coast Guard stops or curtails mission activities that do not fall into those categories,” Petty Officer Nicole Groll said Monday. “Coast Guard uniformed personnel will continue to perform their duties during a partial government shutdown and will provide essential services such as search and rescue, port and homeland safety and security, law enforcement and environmental response. However, with a government shutdown, they will likely not have the full support that they need in order to maintain mission readiness.”
Other federal workers, like employees at the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, have been furloughed. The National Seashore remains open to visitors, but there are no visitor services and all facilities are closed, as is the Monomoy refuge visitor center on Morris Island.
On Cape Cod and the Islands, the Coast Guard operates six boat stations and Air Station Cape Cod, along with a maintenance team for aids to navigation. Most training and maintenance activities will continue, though they may be reduced in some cases, Groll said. Locally, some Coast Guard members reside in base housing, but those with private homes or rentals are struggling to make ends meet. In a letter to the entire service, the leadership of the Coast Guard praised members for staying at their posts and urged supervisors to do what they can to support their neediest shipmates. The lowest paid members are eligible for interest-free loans of up to $1,000 to help them bridge the gap, provided by the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Board.
But for families with medical expenses, consumer debt or other bills, the partial shutdown is causing immediate hardship. There is a food pantry at Coast Guard Base Boston, Groll said, but other resources are closer at hand.
“We have posted on all our social media and sent a press release that we are happy to accept all families impacted by the government shutdown,” said Christine Menard of the Family Pantry of Cape Cod. As of early this week, two Coast Guard families had received assistance, and two others called to inquire about the process. Federal workers are encouraged to visit the Pantry, bringing a photo ID and identification for each child, along with a bill or other documentation with their current address. They can receive groceries the same day and can shop for food and clothing every 14 days. Details, including hours of operation, are posted at www.TheFamilyPantry.com.
Menard said the Pantry has also received four donations so far in honor of the Coast Guard.
The Cape Cod Military Support Foundation has also opened a food pantry in their “Empowerment Center” at Joint Base Cape Cod on the Upper Cape. Donate to support the foundation by clicking here.
This week, the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank announced that has begun offering one-year zero-interest loans to families affected by the partial government shutdown. The loans are available for amounts between $500 and $2,500, and customers can learn more at any Cape Cod Five branch.