The 42 U.S. Coast Guardsman at the Brunswick station missed their first paycheck Tuesday as a result of the partial shutdown of the government.
Sr. Chief Petty Officer Justin Irwin confirmed that all personnel are working without pay while maintaining safety and providing emergency response for vessels along the coast of Southeast Georgia.
“We’re still standing a taut watch,’’ Irwin said. “We’re still doing our duties. We’re still ready.”
Although other services, such as the Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy, are still getting paid, the Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security, which is one of the agencies at least partially idled by the shutdown. The armed forces are covered under the funded Department of Defense budget.
Some people have stepped up to help, but Irwin said as station commander he has to ensure he abides by both Coast Guard and federal government policies.
“We’re hanging in there. There’s been a lot of generosity and support,’’ he said.
Their neighbors at the Department of Natural Resources brought them lunch one day and the local Coast Guard Auxiliary has cooked meals, Irwin said.
The only donations he can take would have to come through the Chief Petty Officers Association in the form of gift cards, Irwin said. As a member of the association, he can accept the cards and hand them out, but he can’t do so while on duty or while in uniform.
Of the 42 personnel assigned to the station, about 30 are full-time and the rest are reservists, who also last got paid on Jan. 1. Of the 30, the majority are married and about half of those have children, he said.
The reservists drill once a month and some have full-time jobs, but many are employees at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which is also under the partial shutdown, Irwin said.
Irwin said he is still trying to get guidance on exactly what he can do to accept help for the Coast Guardsmen until funding is approved in Washington and their pay is caught up.
At the Brunswick station, watch consists of monitoring the radio and taking calls from boaters in distress and responding with its vessels. Coast Guard Station Brunswick is at the southern end of the Charleston sector that stretches north to Myrtle Beach.
Anyone who wishes to help may contact Irwin at the station at 912-267-7999.