January 23, 2019 – The nation’s largest veterans organization is calling on the American public to do what the Coast Guard routinely does for others: come to the rescue.
“Members of the Coast Guard were last paid on January 1. This is completely outrageous,” said American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad. “There are many things the American public can do. First, demand Congress immediately pass and the president sign a clean version of the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, HR 367. Second, help The American Legion support Coast Guard families in need by donating to The American Legion Veterans and Children Foundation. The American Legion has already awarded almost $700,000 in nonrepayable grants to junior ranking Coast Guard families in need. There are hundreds of additional requests already in the pipeline which The American Legion is trying to grant, but we have a very limited budget. So any amount that you can give would be most appreciated.”
Reistad is also calling on bill collectors to offer flexibility for members of the Coast Guard. “Due dates should be extended until the Coast Guard is paid and interests and late fees should be waived,” Reistad said. “We are hoping that the private sector as well as public utility companies all step up.”
In a Twitter video, Admiral Karl Schultz, the Coast Guard commandant, acknowledged the gravity of the situation. “Ultimately, I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members,” Schultz said.
“As a nonprofit, The American Legion is not capable of funding the entire Coast Guard payroll,” Reistad said. “But we are hoping that Americans immediately demand that Congress and the White House pay the Coast Guard. Any donations that people wish to make to the foundation will be especially appreciated at a time like this.”
The American Legion has awarded grants to meet the shelter, medical and nutritional needs for the minor children of military personnel since 1925.