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Cove-area residents feel the impact of furloughs

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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013 4:30 am

About 6,000 Fort Hood civilian employees were forced to take a full day off work without pay this week as the Defense Department started its 11-week furlough.

Copperas Cove resident Herve Abrams is a member of a group that is frustrated about it.

Abrams said he woke up Monday morning with one goal in mind: “What can I do to help stop this furlough, because I don’t want any more furlough days.”

As a retired Army sergeant first class, Abrams has worked as a security officer on Fort Hood for more than two years. On a typical day, he can be seen working at the installation’s Bernie Beck Gate on TJ Mills Boulevard.

“We help with post security at many of the gates,” he said. “I assure that everyone coming onto Fort Hood meets the entry requirements.”

More than 100 employees he works with have been impacted, leaving none of his colleagues exempt, Abrams said. It’s given him a different view of his job.

“I’m enjoying the civilian life, but it’s been a bit difficult with the pay freezes and the furloughs,” he said.

To cope, Abrams cut back on expenses at home.

“It’s really taken a financial toll on me and my family,” he said. “We don’t go out to the restaurants as much. When we go shopping, we are just getting the bare necessities.”

Samuel Boles, a Kempner resident and executive vice president for local chapter 1920 of the American Federation of Government Employees, also is feeling the effects of the recent furlough, he said. Boles is a disabled military veteran who served for 21 years.

“We are very disappointed with the way the government is handling things,” he said. “We have already contributed so much to the federal system and for them to ask us to give more is ridiculous.”

Boles said he reduced his normal family activities this summer.

Boles and Abrams, along with American Federation of Government Employees, spent the past month educating the public about the financial burdens the furlough will impose on the community.

“These furloughs are not only affecting me and the others on Fort Hood, but also the businesses that we frequent because we are no longer spending as much money there,” Abrams said.

Both men said they will continue to reach out to area residents and politicians to inform them of their frustrations with the furlough.

Boles said union members will file appeals with elected leaders further expressing their concerns.

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