Va. Guard begins furloughs due to partial government shutdown

vaguardlogoSANDSTON, Va. — Nearly 550 federal employees in the Virginia National Guard received furlough notices Oct. 1, 2013, as a result of the partial government shutdown. Most routine operations will be halted, but essential operations will continue and the Guard will maintain its ability to rapidly respond to support the state in the event of an emergency situation.

The Va. Guard still has approximately 700 Active Guard and Reserve personnel on duty across the Commonwealth and will continue to staff the Joint Operations Center 24 hours day, seven days a week. If ordered to state active duty by the Governor in the event of an emergency situation, those operations would be funded by the state. The Va. Guard has more than 6,000 personnel available for state active duty.

Many federal employees in the Va. Guard are military technicians, and membership in the National Guard is a requirement for their job, but they are still subject to the furlough.

Federal employees came to work Tuesday morning, conducted actions necessary for an orderly shutdown, then began a non-pay furlough. During that time they will not be allowed to come to their workplace or work from home and won’t receive a paycheck, but health benefits and life insurance premiums will still be paid.

Most Virginia Army National Guard units will not conduct their schedule weekend drill training periods schedule for the first weekend in October and will instead reschedule the training periods for later in the year.

Nearly 300 members of the Virginia Army and Air Guard are currently deployed on federal active duty and receive the same pay and benefits as all other active duty personnel.

The Va. Guard staffs family assistance centers at several locations across the state and also has a financial advisor available to help any employee impacted by the furlough. The personnel staffing these functions are contractors paid by funds that were allocated prior to the shutdown.

At Fort Pickett, all training will be halted unless it is to prepare for an upcoming mobilization. The ID card office will be closed, though the fitness center, post exchange and billeting office will remain open as they are not supported with federal appropriated funds.

At Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, the Commonwealth ChalleNGe program for at-risk high school students remains open because the funding is allocated for a two year period. As with Fort Pickett, all training will be halted unless it is to prepare for an upcoming mobilization but the billeting office remains open.

In a message to the Virginia National Guard full time workforce sent by email Sept. 27, Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, thanked employees for their hard work, dedication and patience and acknowledged the furlough creates hardships. “It is unfortunate that we are dealing with this situation so soon after ending the recent furlough period,” Long said. “I want to thank all of our state and federal employees for their hard work and dedication to our mission, and especially for your patience as we work through these periods of fiscal uncertainty. These situations are a challenge for everyone in our workforce, as well as for families, but I want everyone to know how much your service is valued and appreciated.”