By CHRISTEN LANIER
Since the recession began in 2008, budget cuts have been a normal part of American life, so it’s no surprise that the 2013 sequester will have big effects. But the hardest hit may be the military.
As with government spending cuts of the past, the military is taking a big hit from the sequester that took effect on March 1.
At Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls Montana, where the 341st Force Support Squadron plans to deploy from in June, they feel the effects of the cuts with the possible threat of now staying stateside.
With troops still in Iraq and Afghanistan, it could mean the difference between home and a war zone.
“Funding for those operations taking place in Afghanistan will continue though we have seen a decline in those to deploy due to cuts in funding for training,” said Airman First Class Heather Parks. “If the soldiers set to deploy cannot get the required training, it could mean a longer stay for those already in Afghanistan.”
The number of troops in Afghanistan has decreased from 101,000 in July of 2011, when President Obama declared that the war was over, to now 68,000 remaining troops.
But are the cuts leading to a decline in civilians enlisting?
“We have people still willing to enlist,” said army recruiter Sgt. Carl Lanier. “The problem lies in that with the new budget cuts the requirements narrow who we can accept. The military still provides a safe living; it’s just harder to get in.”
Along with training funds, tuition assistance and the health system have also seen a big decrease. New tuition assistance applicants in the Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard will receive no financial aid and the health system has been reduced by $3 billion. Though Congress has recently reinstated tuition assistance, the final decision hinges on the president’s signature.
Should the sequester continue, the impact will likely increase in the health care system.