Until the potential federal government shutdown was averted, there was a lot of confusion over how it would affect the paychecks of government employees, including active duty military. With troops deployed and fighting in three wars across the globe, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke what most people were thinking when he declared during a Q & A session in Baghdad that the government should "pay the guys with guns first."
Unfortunately, current laws don't mandate what most people feel is common sense. While paying our military members seems like an undeniable priority, the Defense Finance And Accounting Service (DFAS) says "the DoD will have no legal authority to pay military member or civilian employees for the days during which the government is shut down."
So what exactly does the government have to pay and to whom?
Active duty personnel are still required to report for duty, but their scheduled payments would be halted or staggered, at least temporarily. Once legislation is passed to get the government moving again, military members would be compensated for duty performed during the shutdown as back pay.
According to the DFAS, civilian employees are paid for their work until the official shutdown begins and pay is resumed once a legislative agreement is passed. They are not paid for any work performed during the shutdown so only critical employees are expected to report to work.
Military veterans and retirees
Retired military are not paid through the Continuing Resolution Acts which have been responsible for keeping the government operational during the several months they did not have an approved budget. Their compensation and benefits would not be affected with a shutdown, but some services they routinely seek might be suspended.
Depending on the terns of contracts, mandated funding and the tasks they were hired to perform, military contractors would continue to be paid.