Thursday, July 11, 2013

How Sequestration and Furloughs Hurt Our Heroes

The Watervliet Arsenal, shown Monday, July 8, 2013,
in Watervliet, N.Y., will be affected by the
federal cost cutting effort called the sequester
starting this week.
(Skip Dickstein/Times Union)
For the next 11 weeks, thousands of National Guard soldiers, airmen, and Department of Defense employees across the country will work four-day weeks for 20 percent reduced pay because of federal sequestration.

Unfortunately, the negative effects of these furloughs do not stop at simple pay cuts for civilians and other Defense Department employees. As these cuts are implemented, leaders and organizations around the country are beginning to realize the incredible breadth of unintended consequences of the cuts.

In three Gulf Coast states, republican lawmakers who previously championed sequestration are now asking President Obama to end sequester-mandated National Guard furloughs. Governors Rick Scott, Bobby Jindal and Phil Bryant, of Florida, Louisiana, and Florida, respectively, have stated that as Tropical Storm Chantal heads closer to Florida, sequestration is “costing the state in readiness.”

Governor Scott spoke more specifically to National Guard furlough concerns in a radio interview recently, saying, “The problem is you’re losing training time, you’re losing preparation time. When will the National Guard make the decision that we stop the furloughs? Right after the hurricane hits?”

Natural disasters are not the only tragedy that furloughs might exacerbate. In Chicago, following a 4th of July weekend where 74 people were shot and 12 were killed, State Rep. Monique Davis has asked that Gov. Patrick Quinn “order the Illinois National Guard…to come to Chicago and work with our mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to provide safety for the children, especially, and for all who walk in Chicago.”

But will the Illinois National Guard have enough resources to help? According to CBS St. Louis, 1,300 employees of the Illinois Guard “will be taking 14 days of furloughs through the end of this fiscal year.”

Just like the needs of the citizens of places like Florida and Chicago do not take a day off once a week, the needs of the families of these National Guard members also don't stop.

The upcoming budget cuts mean that our heroes will need our help more than ever. If you would like to help our campaign connect unemployed National Guard members, veterans, and spouses with American employers, please visit the American Jobs for American Heroes website or follow us on Twitter today @USJobs4USHeroes.

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