The wife of a Coast Guard employee who doesn't know when her husband will get his next paycheck amid the partial government shutdown had a message for Washington on Thursday.

"Build the wall, don't build the wall. But pay our husbands,” Vienna Julien told CBS News


Julien is one of three Coast Guard wives living in Bacliff, Texas, who spoke to the news network about the struggles they're facing as their husbands go without pay during the shutdown, which is now in its 20th day.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE and congressional Democrats remain at odds over funding for the president's proposed wall along the U.S.–Mexico border. That impasse resulted in about 25 percent of the federal government going without funding.

The Coast Guard is the only military branch whose employees are going without paychecks during the shutdown because the service is part of the Department of Homeland Security, whose funding lapsed on Dec. 22.

"Our budget is extremely tight," Julien said. "We have just bought only the necessities when we went grocery shopping and, you know, trying to look at the sales and see what's on sale."

"We've been having 'struggle meals,' we call them," Erin Picou, who is also married to a member of the Coast Guard, told CBS News. "You take whatever's in the fridge and whatever's in the pantry and throw it in a casserole, and that's a meal."

Another Coast Guard wife, Ashley Totten, said she feels that her husband’s military branch is "absolutely being overlooked" as the other branches of military continue to get paid. The Defense Department is not one of the agencies affected by the shutdown.

"We just want there to be a resolution that puts the Coast Guard in a situation to actually be respected and treated the way that they should be as far as funding goes," Totten said.

Picou said she feels like Coast Guard families are just “pawns” in the shutdown.

“They're just playing with us,” she said.

Their comments come at a time when the Coast Guard faces scrutiny for reportedly publishing a tip-sheet encouraging its employees to hold garage sales or babysit in order to ease their financial strain during the shutdown.

The five-page memo from the Coast Guard Support Program, which has since been removed from its website, laid out advice for unpaid workers, suggesting that service members pick up a gig babysitting, holding a garage sale or serving as a "mystery shopper."