• December 19, 2014

Civilian furloughs at Fort Hood certain to be felt in community

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Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2013 4:30 am

Starting this week, about 6,000 Department of the Army civilians who work at Fort Hood will be getting a day off.

In fact they’ll be getting a day off from work each week for 11 consecutive weeks, from July through Sept. 30.

It sounds like a good deal. Except the days off are without pay — and for the most part, they’re unwanted.

The forced time off is part of the $85 billion in sequestration cuts that are forcing the Army to reduce its budget by 20 percent through the end of the fiscal year.

Most directorates at Fort Hood are splitting the furlough days between Mondays and Fridays, so fewer workers will be gone at any one time.

Still, the cutbacks are bound to be felt.

Already, many offices have cut staff to accommodate the Army’s budget shortfall. As a result, the remaining employees were working short-staffed, even before the furloughs. Starting this week, however, many of these offices will be further impacted two days out of the week, as civilian workers paid through appropriated funds are forced to stay home.

The effect on the productivity of these offices, as well as on Fort Hood services and programs, is likely to be significant, though garrison officials reportedly have worked to mitigate the impact.

However, the impact cannot be minimized for many furloughed workers, whose pay is being reduced by 88 hours over the span of 11 weeks. For those living on a tight budget, that 20 percent cut in their paychecks over the next three months could have serious consequences.

Still, it could be worse.

The Pentagon cut the original number of furlough days from 22 to 14, and then to 11.

In addition, with the defense secretary’s authorization, Fort Hood officials have been able to adjust and reduce furlough hours for mission-critical personnel and emergency services such as air traffic controllers, police and firefighters. For the most part, garrison officials rerouted internal funds and unfunded some previously authorized end-of-year expenditures to make ends meet.

And though budget cuts have forced the Army to reduce training, it hasn’t been restricted to squadron-level exercises, as had been forecast when the sequester took hold in March.

Still, the impact is bound to be felt by Fort Hood soldiers and their families in several areas — such as the closing of health clinics and pharmacies one day a week.

Since sequestration first took effect in March, lawmakers in Congress and administration officials have negated some of its more consequential reductions — thus sparing the public the widespread breakdown in government services that had been predicted.

As the Washington Post reported in an article last week, politicians transferred cuts from high-value programs to those of lower value. In other areas, they prevented furloughs by making “cuts” to programs that had superfluous budget items or by eliminating funding that had technically expired.

In its final analysis, the Post article concluded that sequestration has not become a daily hassle for most Americans.

While that may be true in large part, the same cannot be said for a considerable segment of the military community.

Fort Hood officials are to be commended for doing everything in their power to minimize the effect of sequestration on the post’s civilian employees, as well as those they serve.

Unfortunately, their job is not done. Sequestration mandates that the Army cut spending by $17 billion annually for the next 10 years. The Defense Department must make $50 billion in cuts each year during the same span.

October will bring a new fiscal year — and another round of cuts. Whether these cuts result in continuing furloughs remains to be seen, but they will no doubt continue to impact both military and civilian personnel to some degree.

Sequestration started out as a game of political “chicken,” with lawmakers of both parties confident they would garner budget concessions from the other side before the mandatory reductions took hold.

Now, four months after the sequester took effect, neither side is looking like a winner.

It’s extremely sad that all the political posturing has only served to hinder Fort Hood’s mission to train soldiers, support their families and protect our nation.

Congress owes it to our military — and to Americans in general — to work together to fix this mess before it gets any worse.

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9 comments:

  • JohnnyinHarkerHeights posted at 9:29 am on Thu, Jul 11, 2013.

    JohnnyinHarkerHeights Posts: 44

    It's editorials like this that preach false equivalency that help enable the dysfunction in DC.

    Both sides are NOT equally to blame.

    Republicans pulled a fast one on the President when they made the deal together re the sequester.

    It was supposed to be a starting point.

    It was supposed to enact cuts to stupid both sides would agree to make a deal - and that is called politics in action.

    What the President didn't know was the 10% cut across the board was fine with the Republicans.

    They got what they wanted.

    It's too bad this paper can't tell the truth and help people understand where the blame lies, because where the blame lies is where the changes must be made.

     
  • JohnnyinHarkerHeights posted at 9:21 am on Thu, Jul 11, 2013.

    JohnnyinHarkerHeights Posts: 44

    What idiotic nonsense.

    This is a right to work state. The employer holds ALL the cards.

    If an employee behaves badly but stays employed blame the employer. Unions have nothing to do with it,

    That includes teachers the example people like to point to when making points like yours. The teacher's union in this state is barely a shadow of the strong teacher's unions in places like Chicago.

    If they are blaming a union, then they are counting on you to not know any better and believe their lie.

    Only 8% of the American Workforce is Union, and only some of them are in states where strong unions are allowed to exist.

    Texas has even less people who are members of unions, because the right to work laws neutered union power a long time ago.

    Outside of some police and firefighters in larger cities, nobody is a member of a union that has any of the powers that would make a union employee run to his steward for assistance on anything.


    So you can't even claim to have witnessed this in other states, especially NOT states with the largest military presence, because those states are almost always right to work.

     
  • ray posted at 9:24 pm on Tue, Jul 9, 2013.

    ray Posts: 17

    @ crosswinds. So you need to be smart to be a government employee. I have not seen that quality in them yet. I have seen rude self centered self absorbed talking down the end of their noses at soldiers the ones we all consider the customer. These same people cry to their union rep when someone even attempts to correct them.

     
  • ray posted at 9:22 pm on Tue, Jul 9, 2013.

    ray Posts: 17

    @ crosswinds. So you need to be smart to be a government employee. I have not seen that quality in them yet. I have seen rude self centered self absorbed talking down the end of their noses at soldiers the ones we all consider the customer. These same people cry to their union rep when someone even attempts to correct them.

     
  • Crosswind81 posted at 6:43 am on Tue, Jul 9, 2013.

    Crosswind81 Posts: 2

    CZ...you are an idiot. First of all stop yelling and learn to spell then you may just be taken more seriously. You sound like someone who wasn't smart enough to get a job with the government...or did you get put out of the Army for cause? Meanwhile I will go "wine" and yell "fore" as I contemplate you poor educational outcome. Learn the proper way to use your vs. you're while you are at it...google is your friend. Than and then too...

    Now as you so disrespectfully air your ignorance in public, keep in mind that because your government cannot do its job and balance a budget, many lower paid GS workers will not have enough income now to eat, pay their bills and spend money in and around Killeen. If you were, (which you are definitely not) smart enough to own a business, you would have a different outlook on anyone losing a substantial portion of their pay. Grow Up.

     
  • cz14 posted at 1:18 pm on Mon, Jul 8, 2013.

    cz14 Posts: 25

    [sad]WELL WELL HEAR WE GO AGAIN ,WINE AND CRY. YOUR DAM LUCKY TO HAVE A JOB AT ALL. GO DOWN TO THE UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE AND SEE HOW LONG THE LINE IS.--OR TO ONE OF THE LOCATIONS THAT JUST COMPLETELY CLOSED THE POST----.SO YOU LOSE ELEVEN DAYS PAY AND GET SEVERAL THREE DAY WEEKENDS.NOW INSTEAD OF CALLING IN SICK ON MONDAYS OR FRIDAYS YOU CAN BE SICK ON TUESDAY OR THURSDAYS AND YOU WILL HAVE A FORE DAY VACATION AND ONLY LOSE ONE DAYS PAY. YOU BETTER COUNT THE DAYS YOUR BEING PAID FOR.----THAN SMILE ,BECAUSE YOUR SURE AS HECK NOT BEING OVER WORKED.

     
  • SGMJBUCK posted at 2:31 pm on Sun, Jul 7, 2013.

    SGMJBUCK Posts: 4

    I am not now, nor have I ever professed to be a Muslin!
    I would never be a pen-pal with President Obama, for the simple reason that he obviously has a Czar for that function.

    I am already retired (1988), and have no intension of re-entering the service.

    I have never asked for a pardon for anything I have done in the past and would not consider asking for a pardon for anything I may do in the future...
    If I think it is the right thing to do, then so be it, and if you disagree, so be it, but I never ask a pardon for doing it...politically correct, or not...

     
  • Smithjr38 posted at 11:54 am on Sun, Jul 7, 2013.

    Smithjr38 Posts: 114

    Good idea . So Post we they will put you before the firing squad ( If you are smart you will tell them you are a Muslim and a pen pal of Obama that with luck will delay your firing squad appointment until you have enough time to retire , and by then THNAK GOD Obama will be gone and we may get a President that is a American and she or he or a the freak of the party ( both parties) and you may get a pardon.

     
  • SGMJBUCK posted at 11:01 am on Sun, Jul 7, 2013.

    SGMJBUCK Posts: 4

    By any name, sequester, furlough,forced vacation, etc., it is all horsepuckey...
    If we were to cut our foreign aid packages by a mere ten percent, we would resolve the cash shortage fallacy... But, we all know - that ain't gonna happen.

    As an aside, I query the veracity of the leadership which decreed the two day comisary closings, and then had the brilliant idea to close both of them on the same day of the week. Not attempting to win the award for the sharpest crayon in the box.

    It just gets scarier and scarier! Has Common Sense, met its demise?

    Suggestion: Close Clear Creek on Mon & Tue...Warrior Way on Wed & Thu......
    We would have a full service comisary open 7 days a week.. Nuff said!