Special Forces chow hall feeding unpaid civilians, Coast Guard for free
STUTTGART, Germany — The dining facility run by Green Berets began offering free meals Friday to members of the Stuttgart military community who are not getting paid because of the government shutdown.
“There were people in the community who came together and wanted to make sure that meals were available for anyone who needs them,” said the company commander in charge of the 10th Special Forces Group’s chow hall on Panzer Kaserne.
The donations to fund the free meals came from members of the Stuttgart military community, who wished to remain anonymous, garrison officials said. Roughly $500 was given, which is enough for nearly 100 meals, DFAC workers said.
In Stuttgart, home to the U.S. European and Africa commands, there is a wide range of both military and civilian personnel. There are roughly a dozen Coast Guard families in the community, local military officials said.
Unlike the rest of the military, whose members continue to get paychecks during the shutdown, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to guard members, EUCOM and AFRICOM also have personnel from the State Department and other government agencies affected by the shutdown.
During lunch Friday at the 10th Special Forces Group DFAC, uniformed troops and DOD civilians still getting paid during the shutdown were streaming into the chow hall for meals. As word gets out about the free meals, the hope is that unpaid personnel will take advantage of the offer.
“We’re here and ready to support,” said the 10th Group captain, whose name was withheld because of unit rules.
Military officials in Stuttgart did not have a complete tally of how many furloughed personnel work in the area, but numerous organizations have offered services in case support is needed.
“I think this is just an example of how the military community comes together,” said Maj. Michael Weisman, a spokesman for Special Operations Command Europe.
EUCOM and AFRICOM said programs are in place to help personnel, including deferred payment for child and youth services, no-to-low interest loans, pay advances at on-post banks and assistance in negotiating delayed rental payments with off-post landlords.
In addition to the local services, all members of the Coast Guard are eligible to apply for a no-interest loan from Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. The Coast Guard has expedited the application process, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss, a spokesman for Coast Guard Atlantic Area.
“Having that DOD support (overseas) for people detached from the rest of the guard has been critical,” Doss said. “We are really thankful for it.”
Other military communities overseas also have begun offering support to servicemembers working without pay, including Yokota Air Base in Japan, where Coast Guard members can access donated groceries.