As the partial government shutdown continues to affect families across the county, one San Diego Coast Guard family has begun bracing for the worst.
Summer Pelland spent most of her January at home watching her four-year-old daughter Delany.
“A week before Christmas, a drunk driver plowed into my husband’s truck,” she said.
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The car was totaled, but fortunately, no injuries were reported.
Summer’s husband, Jeff, is an active-duty Coast Guard member who has served for 22 years. Because of the partial government shutdown, the family cannot afford to add new car payments to the monthly bills.
So, the Pellands became a one-car family.
“I haven’t been able to really participate in some of the activities to help other Coasties, so I’m kind of at home, feeling a little helpless,” said Summer.
Summer said hers is just one small story of the “devastating” impact the shutdown has had on San Diego’s Coast Guard community.
Four Coast Guard members she knows are facing difficulties with rent as some landlords are unable or unwilling to be lenient during the shutdown.
“We have service members that are married to each other, so both incomes are not coming in,” Summer added.
Though, Summer said perhaps the most frustrating part has been some people belittling the Coast Guard’s pain online.
“We’ve gotten people attacking us, saying the Coast Guard isn’t a real military branch or ‘You’ve only missed one paycheck,’ or people I know post online, ‘Suck it up buttercup, go get a job!’” she said.
But San Diego’s 600-plus Coast Guard servicemembers continue to work —without pay — through the shutdown.
And Summer acknowledged the bulk of the reaction has been incredibly warm and generous from San Diegans.
“The outpouring has been amazing, and it’s heart-warming to see the food pantries, the donations, but it’s also gut-wrenching to see Coasties having to line up for food,” she said. “It really feels like we’ve been forgotten, that their sacrifices don’t matter, and it breaks my heart for them.”
San Diego is one of only 25 cities in the country to be a designated Coast Guard City.