Reported By Nancy Amons
Carson and Natalie McCoy's father is serving in Afghanistan. Friday, their mother Alicia got some starting new via Facebook: that her husband's next paycheck would be cut on half from $1,400 to $700.
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"It's a slap, it really is," Alicia McCoy said.
The crisis loomed because Congress had not yet passed a budget. Every soldier stationed at Fort Campbell learned Friday they could expect to get only half a paycheck on April 15, unless a last-minute deal came through.
Alicia canceled a weekend trip to the zoo she had planned for the girls and pared her grocery list to the bare minimum. She had a message for Congress.
"Remember what your mama told you, 'Straighten up, put your big boy and big girl pants on, and act right,'" she said.
It wasn't just an inconvenience for many military families, it was a downright insult.
"It's aggravating. It's very upsetting," said Jason Looney, whose wife is an Army nurse in Baghdad.
They have three special-needs children. Looney said soldiers have enough to worry about -- like getting shot at -- without wondering if their kids at home have food.
"I'm a very patriotic person. And I'm ashamed that our government would do this," Looney said.
Frustration popped out on Facebook posts and on yard signs. One hand-written sign on cardboard said, "The price of freedom should never be free. Thanks, Congress. Fix our pay."
Another sign, posted as a joke at an office on post said, "Half pay = half day. Sorry we are closed due to lack of federal funding." It wasn't true, of course, everyone still had to work.
Half pay is no laughing matter to many military families, like Sgt. Mathew Rutherford and his family. He and his wife have five children; the youngest was born a month ago. Rutherford said with only half a paycheck, he could pay his utilities and buy food, but he couldn't make his mortgage payment.
By late afternoon Friday, Pentagon officials said if Congress could reach a decision, they could possibly work quickly enough to cut troops a full paycheck on April 15; if not, the Pentagon hoped to have an emergency payday so that troops wouldn't have to wait until their May 1 paycheck to get their back pay.
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