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Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars donates to help feed unpaid Coast Guard members

Telegram & Gazette - 1/12/2019

Jan. 12--MILLBURY -- They aren't being paid, but members of the Coast Guard are still going out on rescue missions, and keeping U.S. ports and shores safe.

So the Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars is stepping up to help, giving a $2,500 check Saturday to the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation to help feed more than 2,000 military families a week.

"Those guys could be jumping in the freezing cold water right now, and they're not being paid to rescue someone," said Donald Cox, MMSF president, after the check presentation in Millbury. "It's just sad to see. These kids are just pawns in this whole thing."

The partial government shutdown entered its 22nd day on Saturday, becoming the longest federal closure in history, as President Donald J. Trump and Congress tussle over funding for a proposed border wall.

About 800,000 workers missed paychecks on Friday, with many receiving blank pay statements -- and many posting these on social media -- adding urgency for a resolution to the shutdown.

Some of those workers are in, or work for, the Coast Guard and are stationed in Massachusetts. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the armed services that does not get paid during the shutdown. This is also the second paycheck missed for civilian employees of the Coast Guard, Mr. Cox said.

"This is a major hardship," said VFW Massachusetts State Commander Keith Jackson. "We all need to take a step forward to take care of our Coast Guard."

To help ease the hardship, the Military Support Foundation opened an "empowerment center" at Joint Base Cape Cod on Dec. 26. The center offers food, groceries and baby supplies. On Wednesday, the support foundation opened a second facility in Boston, delivering 80,000 pounds of food, Mr. Cox reported.

He said the two centers are serving roughly 2,200 Coast Guard families a week, and he doesn't see an end in sight.

This is the second donation that the VFW Massachusetts has made to the Military Support Foundation having delivered $1,000 worth of grocery gift cards on Dec. 30, Mr. Jackson said.

"I'd like to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you," Mr. Cox told members of the VFW. "This government shutdown has turned the lives of the 2,200 families that we've serviced in the last week upside down."


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