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President Trump greets members of the military during a surprise trip to a base in Iraq on Dec. 26, 2018.

The letter began somberly:

Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck.

But Adm. Karl Schultz, the 26th commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, was delivering more than just bad news. He was delivering a message. He posted the letter to his command on social media, writing:

"To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation's history that servicemembers in a US Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations."

He thanked Americans for their support, thanked these dedicated men and women for serving in some of the harshest of environments, and offered some encouragement: "Stay the course, stand the watch and serve with pride. You are not, and will not, be forgotten."

He also noted that the Coast Guard had received a generous $15 million donation from USAA to supplement support during this furlough. That's right — our military, the greatest on the planet, is now taking donations to help pay our troops. What an utter disgrace.

Whether this final insult on the list of many will be enough to finally end this embarrassing government shutdown — the result of a hissy fit by our president for failing to do his job properly — remains to be seen. But the verdict from an important constituency is already in. And it isn't pretty.

Once a reliable voting bloc not only for Republicans but for Trump, too — a man who famously dodged the Vietnam draft claiming bone spurs — might be turning on the guy who loved to boast about his generals.

A Military Times poll from October shows his approval rating among active-duty military personal had slipped since 2016, when he enjoyed a nine-point margin of support. Then, 46 percent of troops approved of his presidency and 37 percent disapproved. That gap disappeared, with 43.8 percent approving and 43.1 percent disapproving in the most recent survey.

And that was before the shutdown. Though the military is loath to wade into politics, this president has time and again thrust it into the realm of the overtly political, often to service his own ego or as a prop for his crass theatrics. And it was bound to take its toll.

There have been many slights; early on he knocked Sen. John McCain's heroic service and slammed Gens. H.R. McMaster, John Kelly and James Mattis on their way out.

There were the slights against veterans, skipping out on Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day and a ceremony in France honoring thousands of U.S. troops.

During the midterm elections, he shrugged off votes from active-duty troops, suggesting two Florida races be called for Republicans before military ballots had been counted.

Constant surprises — from announcing troop withdrawals in Syria to pledging an end to military exercises in South Korea — mean he often conducts foreign policy without informing those who would carry it out.

The border catastrophe is just the latest, but perhaps the most egregious.

Last year, Trump's deployment of U.S. soldiers to the border as an election-year gimmick, and his continued exploitation of our military for political purposes had Pentagon officials privately deriding "the deployment as an expensive waste of time and resources, and a morale killer to boot," according to a New York Times report.

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In addition to freezing Coast Guard pay, the government shutdown has had a slew of ugly consequences for the military, ranging from the alarming — canceling U.S. military reservist training — to the indefensible — freezing the $100,000 death benefit to families of troops killed in action and military-funded travel for funeral services.

Of course, our troops are not complaining. They will do what they do best — serve in sacrifice. But Trump's continued disregard for our men and women in uniform could have a great cost, both to him and to our country.