• August 30, 2014

Many civilians at Fort Hood sent home as shutdown starts

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Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 3:15 pm, Fri Oct 4, 2013.

Many of Fort Hood’s 6,000 employees went to work Tuesday morning, only to turn around and go back home.

Under the government shutdown caused by Congress’ inability to agree on a continuing resolution for government spending, funding is no longer available for many aspects of everyday life at Fort Hood.

Much of Fort Hood is staffed through Defense Department civilians, who are being furloughed for a second time this calendar year.

“It’s just been real hard,” said Cheryl Eliano, president of the local 1920 chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees. “It’s been a rough ride. Just when we think we get over one thing, here comes another. It seems to be never ending.”

Instead of performing normal work duties, employees spent much of Monday at Fort Hood preparing for the shutdown.

About 81 percent of employees were deemed “mission critical” and will work through the shutdown with pay delayed until funds are available. The remaining 1,140 people will be sent home.

Soldiers keep working

Soldiers will continue to work and be paid, thanks to a bill passed by Congress on Monday afternoon.

A large number of services on post will be either shut down or scaled back considerably, post officials said Monday.

The most visible impacts will be seen at the commissary, personnel services, building and housing maintenance calls, Army Community Services, the Exceptional Family Member Program, Survivor Outreach Services and relocation services.

Stateside commissaries were open for a full business day Tuesday to reduce the amount of perishables on-hand before beginning a systematic closure process to account for unsold products and secure facilities, stated an online news release from the Defense Commissary Agency.

Medical officials confirmed all services, including pharmacy services, will continue through the week.

Clinics will be open and already scheduled appointments will not be canceled. If the shutdown continues past a week, services will be re-evaluated.

“Our providers and administrative staff understand that ... we are still charged with providing the superior health care our soldiers, families and veterans deserve and expect, and we will remain positive and focused on meeting our beneficiaries’ needs during every patient encounter,” said Col. Patricia Darnauer, commander of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

Civilian positions not furloughed are generally performing life, health and safety functions on post, as well as preparing soldiers for deployment and redeployment.

Eliano said people called her office all day Monday with questions and concerns. Despite a year of hardships and instability, Eliano said, many workers want to stay with their jobs.

“Regardless of what happens in the government, we still love what we do,” she said. “They love their jobs helping soldiers and family members.”

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