COLUMBIA, S.C. — The United States Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Karl Schultz, says Coast Guard members will go unpaid due to the shutdown.
"Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck. To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation’s history that servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations," Schultz wrote in a tweet and posted release.
The USO of Columbia is offering help to these service members and their families.
The USO is accepting gift card donations to Walmart, gas stations, and grocery stores at their location at Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
The center is open Monday - Friday from 8am to 9pm. On the weekends those hours change to 8am. to 8pm.
Also, a north Charleston Texas Roadhouse will be offering free mails to service members and their dependents from January 17th to 23rd, according to Katie Kennedy with Columbia's USO office.
The Admiral posted the tweet on Tuesday afternoon.
In his six paragraph letter, the Admiral says he knows it puts a strain on servicemembers and their families.
"I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf. To this end, I am encouraged to share that Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) has received a $15 million donation from USAA to support our people in need. In partnership with CGMA, the American Red Cross will assist in the distribution of these funds to our military and civilian workforce requiring assistance," Schultz explained.
The Commandant continued that they are confronting the "challenge" together with civilians in the workforce whom are also without paychecks during the shutdown.
On Wednesday, WLTX spoke with a mom who's husband is in the Coast Guard in the Charleston area.
Stephanie Hale herself is a Coast Guard veteran, having served 11 years. Now, she, her husband, and their three kids are paying bills with her retirement checks and her husband's second job.
"This is the first time in 19 years he's never been paid and luckily we do have my retirement coming in that helps offset and pay some of the bills. But, because of the shutdown, my husband did have to, on top of his normal working hours through the Coast Guard, pick up a night job to offset the rest of our bills," Hale told WLTX.
However, Hale said her three boys, age 8, 13, and 15, are taking it in stride. The three set up a non-perishable food drive, according to Hale.
They've collected canned and boxed-goods, diapers, and gift cards to help their dad's fellow active duty service members.
"Took upon themselves to say hey let's help these other members that work with dad, who-- some of them are new to the Coast Guard, don't have families nearby," Hale said proudly.
On Wednesday morning, Hale said her husband drove to the office with a 5-gallon container filled with items thanks to neighbors and friends.
"The strength of our Service has, and always will be, our people. You have proven time and again the ability to rise above adversity. Stay the course, stand the watch, and serve with pride. You are not, and will not, be forgotten," the Commandant's letter finishes.
WLTX will continue to update the impact of the shutdown on South Carolina's service men and women.
"Department of Defense is not affected by this shutdown so an active Army Soldier should not have a pay issue related to the shutdown. If a Soldier has a pay issue, they need to submit a pay inquiry through their chain of command." - Fort Jackson Media Affairs
WLTX also reached out to some of South Carolina's federal representatives about the issue.
“We are a state full of soldiers, statement, and public servants. I want to ensure our Coast Guard men and women that they are top of mind as we deal with the humanitarian and national security crisis at the southern border. It’s important to note that they will be back paid once the federal government is reopened," said Republican Senator Tim Scott.
“On December 20th, I voted to keep the government open and support President Donald Trump’s request for border security. I am greatly concerned that members of the military are being financially impacted. It is my hope that we can have good faith negotiations and do what is best for our country," said GOP Congressman Joe Wilson.
"Graham is working on a bipartisan solution in the Senate to temporarily reopen the government," read an email from Senator Lindsey Graham's staff.
An email to Congressman Jim Clyburn's office was not returned.