Coast Guard family in Memphis says they’re suffering during shutdown

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Coast Guard family in Memphis is pinching pennies and worried about their future as the federal government shutdown nears its third week.

The Coast Guard is the only military branch that does not get paid during the federal shutdown because it is part of the Department of Homeland Security. A few weeks ago the government found a way to pay the military members, but it’s not clear in the coming days what will happen.

That’s the reality Lee Ann Strahlendorf says her family is facing.

“We’re very proud to be a Coast Guard family. It’s just very disappointing and scary right now,” Strahlendorf said. “We’re basically, I feel like, a pawn and stuck in the middle of this.”

Strahlendorf’s husband has been with the Coast Guard 19 years, lived in multiple states and every day continues to go to his post along the Mississippi River.

The couple and their young son moved to Memphis several months ago, and she has yet to find a job in the area. That puts even more of a strain on the family, which is keeping grocery shopping to a bare minimum, Strahlendorf said.

The family says they have some savings but don’t know how long they will last, and they know there are many families that are in much worse situations.

“The stress of basically keeping savings, being able to pay bills, we have a child that has special needs so he has appointments and so co-pays, gas, that adds up,” she said.

One Coast Guard support group recently put out a list of suggestions for families to help supplement their income during the shutdown. It said to hold a garage sale, babysit, dog walk or serve as a mystery shopper.

Strahlendorf said she was disappointed when she saw the list, which was later removed from the website. The Coast Guard said the advice doesn’t reflect the Coast Guard’s effort to support it’s workforce during the lapse.

Politics aside, Strahlendorf has a message to lawmakers: Get this resolved.

“Pay our Coast Guard, get this bill passed,” she said. “It’s affecting so many families.”

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