Community rallies for Coasties in wake of shutdown
By Chris Day
Saturday, January 19, 2019
As the partial government shutdown continues, the U.S. Coast Guard has a message for its personnel struggling without pay: Help is available.
“We’re telling them there’s a lot of help out there,” said Ann Logan, command master chief at the Aviation Logistics Center at Base Elizabeth City. “Don’t be afraid to ask for it.”
Logan was speaking Friday afternoon at the Chief Petty Officers Association clubhouse on Cardwell Street. She was there to accept a check for $1,100 from Dan Serik, of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6060 in Elizabeth City.
The check is one of many ways the Elizabeth City community and area organizations have responded to help support local Coasties and their families during the shutdown, which is now in its 29th day.
Also at the check presentation was a representative from the Pasquotank Department of Social Services who was helping Coasties apply for SNAP and WIC benefits, Logan said. SNAP, short for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the nation’s food stamp program. WIC, which stands for Women, Infants and Children, is another food supplement program for pregnant women and those women with infant children up to age 5.
“We’re all stressed,” said Logan. “We’re in uncharted territory with this shutdown, but we have a lot of help.”
In the mid-1990s Logan was not too far into her Coast Guard career when the sea-going service faced two government shutdowns, the first in November 1995 and another that began in December 1995 and ended in early January 1996. Neither shutdown negatively affected Coast Guard personnel as the current one has.
On Tuesday, as a result of the shutdown, active Coast Guard personnel did not get paid. The same day, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz addressed Coasties in a statement on Twitter:
“Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled paycheck,” the commandant stated. “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 appropriations.”
The last paycheck Coasties received was on Dec. 31.
To help the local Coast Guard community cope with the shutdown, several organizations with Coast Guard or military ties have formed what they’re calling the Coast Guard Elizabeth City Coalition. According to Logan, those organizations include the Chief Petty Officers Association, the Coast Guard Enlisted Association, the Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officers Association, the Coast Guard Spouses Club and the Military Officers Association of America.
“We banded together to help each other,” Logan said, of the coalition formed to assist fellow Coasties. “We can find a way to get them the help they need through this coalition.”
One way to donate money is by visiting the CPOA Facebook page where a link titled “Donate” directs people to a paypal.com account.
People can also donate items by emailing the Spouses Club at email@example.com, Logan said. The many needed items include food, non-perishable goods, baby items and pet food.
“A big one right now is laundry and dish soap,” she said. “Those kind of items can be expensive.”
Other area businesses and organizations that have so far offered assistance include grooming services by Doggie Styles by Shannon, located at 407-A S. Griffin Street. Forest Park Church has planned a free spaghetti dinner for the families of Coast Guard and civil service workers who have been furloughed today from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Elizabeth City State University’s athletic department tweeted Friday that it’s offering free tickets for the Vikings’ Jan. 26 home basketball game against Virginia State. The Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes and Fries restaurant at the Tanglewood shopping center will provide free meals to active duty and retired Coast Guard personnel from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday.
As of Friday, there didn’t appear to be any immediate end in sight for the shutdown. Logan said her command is telling Coasties to remain optimistic and to remember that the Coast Guard’s senior leadership is on Capitol Hill representing them and helping to find a solution.
“They are working hard to get this resolved,” she said.
All mission-related training for Coast Guard units, such as Air Station Elizabeth City, is still authorized and the public should not worry that safety on the water will suffer through the shutdown, Logan said.
“We all dedicate ourselves to the Coast Guard and we’re not going to let the mission fail,” she said.
Serik presented the check in front of the CPOA club’s seal painted on an inside wall.
“We’re just supporting our Coast Guard brothers and sisters in their time of need,” said Serik, a U.S. Army veteran.
“We really appreciate it,” Logan replied. “It means a lot to us.”