“Attention: TA Suspension and Course Rejections” is the headline on an urgent message that appeared on the GoArmyEd website Tuesday morning. Its purpose is to make sure Soldiers using tuition assistance know the government won’t be helping them pay for school.
“Congress has not passed either a budget or a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014,” the message reads. “Tuition Assistance (TA) for classes starting on or after 1 October 2013 have been suspended until further notice. Effective 1 October, all soldier accounts in GoArmyEd have been placed on hold and they will not be able to process any new TA requests.”
GI Bill benefits are still available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But if the government shutdown continues for any length of time, this and other veterans services could also be in danger.
“The fact that funding for VA benefits could disappear in a month ought to be incentive enough for our elected leaders to achieve a solution,” Daniel Dellinger, national commander of The American Legion, told Military.com. “Our federal government must never put veterans in this kind of position.”
While lawmakers did act to make sure active-duty troops still receive paychecks during the shutdown, all other forms of compensation will be delayed until Congress restores funding. This includes anniversary payments, hazard duty incentive pay and re-enlistment bonuses.
Currently, the main impediment to passing a budget – or at least a stopgap spending bill – is an attempt by House Republicans to delay implementation of some provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The Democratic-controlled Senate has rejected those delays, and President Barack Obama is laying blame for the shutdown squarely at Republicans’ doorstep.
"They've shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans," Obama said.
Regardless of who is ultimately at fault, one thing is certain: Military personnel and many other government employees are the people who will really feel the effects of Congress’ failure to negotiate.