Coast Guard (copy) (copy)

A Coast Guard rescue helicopter takes off from the deck of the North Charleston-based Cutter Hamilton during a search for a missing Piper PA-31T airplane off the S.C. coast in 2018. Coast Guard/Provided

While other military service members continue to be paid as the shutdown drags on, the Coast Guard will not.

According to a calendar, the Coast Guard's last payday was Dec. 31. The service's next scheduled pay day is Jan. 15 — a day that could come and go with out a paycheck. 

About 700 members of the Coast Guard are in the Charleston sector that ranges as far away as Brunswick and Tybee Island in Georgia, and includes those patrolling on cutters.

The Coast Guard was moved from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 — a controversial shift that has been criticized by some military experts, who said the service belonged in the Department of Defense.

Because of it, the service people, their families and retirees — as well as furloughed civilian personnel — won't see another check until the federal partial shutdown impasse ends over paying for President Donald Trump's border wall.

"Once legislation is passed, Coast Guard members can expect to receive back pay, which will take up to 3-5 business days to process," said Chief Crystalynn Kneen, assistant public affairs officer at the district headquarters in Miami.

The situation for those personnel now starts to get grim. Mortgage, utility and other bills are coming due. The families must buy food. Some medical care is available; some isn't.

The service's support arm posted a "Managing Your Finances" tip sheet earlier this week that offered advice such as holding garage sales and pet-sitting for extra cash — that part was later removed following widespread ridicule.

The advisory suggested Coast Guard personnel contact their debtors for extensions, and it included a sample letter how to do that.

"Bankruptcy is a last option," the tip sheet stated.

In a posted letter, Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz called on officers to be "intrusive leaders," watching their personnel for signs of trouble and doing what they can.

Most all of the local members affected live in the Charleston area. They staff the section headquarters and marine patrol station on Tradd Street in Charleston, as well as the Maritime Law Enforcement Center and a base in North Charleston where the cutters James, Hamilton and Willow are berthed.

They handle an array of coastal duties including patrols, port security, search and rescue missions, illegal drug import seizures and pollution clean-ups.

Attempts by The Post and Courier to contact active personnel and retirees weren't successful. One guardsman said they had been told not to talk to the media.

The service has a plan in place to maintain essential safety, security and environmental protection operations, Kneen said. 

"At this time, as with all Coast Guard units, Sector Charleston and surrounding local units have not grounded any assets," she said. 

"The Coast Guard, along with local units to Charleston, continues to provide essential services such as search and rescue, port and homeland safety and security, law enforcement and environmental response with unit assets," she said.

"Active duty Coast Guard members continue to work, diligently and faithfully, during this time of uncertainty," Kneen said.

Reach Bo Petersen at @bopete on Twitter or 843-937-5744.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.