There has been a lot of debate over what this government shut down means for many as there has been a lot of back and forth on both sides of the aisle. We need to stop and take a look at the bigger picture and ask ourselves, 'Am I really thinking of this as a concerned citizen or am I thinking strictly on my party alliance's agenda?' Now here is something that many of us haven't considered and I'm not one of the many as I've been on the other side employed by the federal government, the government is run by people. Yes, that seems like an elementary concept, but it's not the people like President Trump or Speaker Pelosi you see on the news every day. No, I'm talking about your Tom, Dick, Harry and your Sally and Jane — those who aren't in the public eye all of the time that are working and now some of which aren't getting paid.

There has been a misconception on who is and isn't getting paid, the biggest of which is our armed forces. Here's a shocker for a lot of you. Not all are getting paid. Four of the five branches: the United States Army, the United States Navy, the Air Force, and our beloved Marines are all Department of Defense or DOD for short. These four are in fact drawing a paycheck as of right now. The fifth and most often forgotten about branch the United States Coast Guard is a part of the Department of Homeland Security and our Coastie men and women in blue are not getting paid. How does this happen you ask? The Department of Homeland Security is a lot smaller than the Department of Defense and The DOH was formed after 9/11 as the specific Department for the Coast Guard and your TSA officials- yep, the folks at the airport. That said, this is also one of the first organizations to meet the challenge of not getting paid during the shutdown.

So, on the first and fifteenth government officials normally get paid. The fifteenth of this month just happened and a lot of our Guardians (the last term that I had heard them called before I got out, Semper Paratus readers and my fellow Coasties), woke up to no money from the payment offices. So yeah, they are protecting us as of right now for free. Now they have to take out loans to provide for their families when they have done nothing wrong but defend our freedoms.

I remember not so long ago when I was 21 and in the United States Coast Guard and we were on the verge of a government shutdown. I was in Ketchikan, Alaska, and we were all gathered around the televisions watching the news and eating our dinners at the enlisted club on base holding our breaths because it was last day to go before we weren't getting paid that next paycheck. We were all sitting on pins and needles hoping they would reconvene and that President Obama (at that time) would make sure they would go back to work. We luckily saw that they would. The next day we were paid.

This is something that is bigger than your opinions on the president. It is bigger than your leanings. This is about the livelihoods of those who are doing what they can to serve us and to serve our country. We need to always keep that in mind- that just because there is a shutdown, someone is affected by it in some shape, form, or fashion. This is taking a toll on people's homes, people's livelihoods, their families. I have friends with spouses and children who are now taking out loans and are being punished for something they had nothing to do with. They didn't do anything wrong but their jobs. So, we all need to consider others when we hear the words "shutdown." We need to keep those affected this go around in our thoughts and in our prayers.

This could be any of us and it is a crying shame that people who took the oath of office to protect and defend us and the Constitution of the United States have to suffer because of fighting in the house at the capitol. They deserve better because all they did was care about the country and try to do something better for someone else and now they are being done wrong. Keep them in your thoughts and in your prayers. Hopefully, this will all end soon.