It’s been a turbulent couple of months for Coast Guard families who were not getting paid during the partial government shutdown and then, with uncertainty surrounding a stopgap bill that temporarily reopened the government through Friday, wondered if it would happen again.
But now that President Donald Trump signed a spending bill, which prevented another partial government closure, families will rest easy tonight.
It was a tense 35 days of living without a paycheck for Mike Brudzinski and his family.
“Just emotional and economic trauma, really,” he said. Brudzinki’s wife Miranda is a petty officer second class in the Coast Guard.
Not knowing if the government would pass a spending bill, the Brudzinski family was still living in shutdown mode.
“I’m happy that it happened but I’m still bitter and angry,” Brudzinski said.
The family stored food from the Coast Guard Academy’s pop-up pantry to save on grocery bills. They limited trips in the car to save on gas, carefully planned out errands, and didn’t even travel to the neighboring town to visit friends.
Brudzinski said his 3-year-old daughter Leila is signed up for WIC, a government supplemental nutrition program, and his 6-year-old, Lucas, is getting free lunch at school.
Families they know are living this cautiously too, according to Brudzinski.
“Frankly I hope they feel ashamed they put us through this,” he said of the government.
“I’m relieved. I’m incredibly relieved,” said Anna Griffiths. Her husband Kyle is a petty officer third class in the Coast Guard.
The mom of almost 6-month-old Juliette and 2-year-old Eloise said the support from the community helped a lot.
“We were still living off the food from the pantry for a week, so it offset our costs so we could catch back up bills wise,” Griffiths said.
Now knowing the spending bill is signed, Griffiths said her family can afford flights to Arizona to see her husband’s grandma, who is having open heart surgery, and hasn’t yet met her granddaughters.
“I think it would be really awful if we didn’t get the opportunity to go out there and meet her before that surgery happened because who knows? You never know,” Griffiths said.
Brudzinski said he and his wife want to pay-it-forward to the organizations and businesses who helped them.
For example, they have a list of restaurants that gave out free meals. They plan to patron those to help add to their bottom line.