Coast Guard families nervous about making ends meet as government shutdown drags on

HOUSTON – With a solid stalemate in Washington, the partial government shut down is taking its toll on the families of active duty U.S. Coast Guard members, many whom are now struggling with what to do when Jan. 1 comes around.

As the government shutdown stretches into the second week, thousands of families are left to wonder.

"We're just waiting for something to happen," Vienna Julien said, a spouse of a U.S. Coast Guard member.

Waiting seems to be the game everyone has to play. For Julien, the funding fiasco is a game changer.

"We're worried about making sure that we have food on the table at the end of the day," Julien said.

Julien is one of 42,000 U.S. Coast Guard families feeling the impact of the gridlock in Washington as lawmakers battle with the idea of fund a border wall, something President Donald Trump has been pushing for. Meanwhile, families here in Greater Houston say they need lawmakers to come to an agreement soon.

"We've been getting emails from commanders saying, 'You should probably prepare,' So, we're trying to prepare," Julien said.

But for the Harvey survivor with two children, the timing for this shutdown, during the holiday season, couldn't be more stressful.

"It's really frustrating because our mortgage is due, and we're first time homebuyers," Julien said.

For Ashley Totten, another Coast Guard member's spouse, the issue is not only about money, but respect for the men and women whom she says have dedicated their lives to serve.

"We actually haven't even had our Christmas because (my husband) was working on Christmas," Totten said.

Totten said while military families under the Department of Defense are getting paid, she feels that active duty members of the Coast Guard, an organization under the Department of Homeland Security, are being forgotten.

"We're OK today, but if this goes on any longer -- we won't be OK," Totten said.

Totten's baby has heart issues, and she said she worries over out-of-pocket medical costs, especially, the unexpected ones. She said she hopes that leaders think about the people who are caught in the political crossfire.

"Whether they get paid or not -- (Coast Guard members) signed up for a job that saves lives -- and they love their job," Totten said.

Officials recently have come up with a solution to pay active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. Coast Guard. In a letter sent out Friday evening, it states members will be granted a one-time payment on New Year's Eve.

This comes with the 42,000 of them were scheduled to be among the first government workers to miss a paycheck. Officials said Coast Guard members are scheduled to be paid again on Jan. 15, but they could miss that paycheck if the shutdown continues.

Paychecks were scheduled on the last day of the year. Now, the Navy Federal Credit Union is offering one-time 0 percent APR loans to eligible Coast Guard members to help. Click here for more information.