Additional Va. Guard employees receive furlough notices due to partial government shutdown

vaguardlogoSANDSTON, Va. — Approximately 100 full-time state employees and 90 part-time wage employees supporting Virginia National Guard operations received furlough notices Oct. 4, 2013, as a result of the partial government shutdown. The furloughs are in addition to the nearly 550 federal employees in the Virginia National Guard who received furlough notices Oct. 1, 2013.

Most routine operations have been halted, but essential operations continue, and the Guard will maintain its ability to rapidly respond to support the state in the event of an emergency situation.

The Virginia Department of Military Affairs, the state agency that supervises the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force, issued the furlough notices through supervisors. A large number of state employees impacted serve at the Fort Pickett Maneuver Training Center and Virginia Army National Guard Headquarters in Blackstone.

Approximately 180 of 270 full-time state employees and approximately 90 part-time state employees supporting Guard operations are reimbursed by federal funds that were not appropriated on October 1, 2013. DMA agreed to pay them for the first four days of the shutdown. Starting Oct. 5, DMA will pay salaries for 80 employees engaged in critical activities such as range operations support at Fort Pickett for units preparing for overseas mobilizations, telecommunications support, facilities management and fire service at Fort Pickett.

DMA will continue to pay the state portion of the health insurance and life insurance premiums appropriate for the furloughed employees.

There is a chance the state funds used to pay the DMA employee salaries could be reimbursed by the federal government once the shutdown has ended, but there is no guarantee.

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.

Should the shutdown continue for any length of time, readiness will be impacted because of schedule maintenance services on vehicles and other equipment not being conducted.

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. During the furlough 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.

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.”