Hawaii National Guard furloughs begin today

Hawaii National Guard furloughs begin today

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Today is the first furlough day for approximately a thousand full-time members of the Hawai'i National Guard.  One day a week for the next three months, the Army and Air National Guard soldiers will be furloughed as a result of federal sequestration budget cuts.

It was an extra long Holiday weekend for Lieutenant Colonel Sharnell Valeho, while most others returned to work Monday post Fourth of July – she did not.

"It is what it is.  You just have to adjust and move forward, or I would say imua," said Lt. Col. Valeho.

Even though they wear a uniform and work full-time, military technicians in the Hawai'i National Guard are considered Department of Defense civilians.  As such, they're facing 11 furlough days.

"What used to be efficient is going to be a little less efficient," described Lt. Col. Valeho, but that's not her only concern.

"The pilots that are military technicians? They won't be able to fly on Mondays.  So missions that fall on a Monday or across the week, they won't be able to fly because they'll be on furlough," explained Lt. Col. Valeho.  "If you're gonna cut the National Guard, that's the trade off --you're going to affect readiness."

Lt. Col. Valeho has served in the Air Guard for 24 years and in two states.  She says she was lucky enough to plan ahead.

"With that lead time for me it helped me to – I refinanced. I increased my withholdings," described Lt. Col. Valeho.  But as the State Family Program Director, she knows the 20% pay cut will hurt her fellow Guardsmen.

"I just think of the others that will have to go and take another job, part-time job to make ends meet or have their spouse go to work to make ends meet – those are the folks that concern me," said Lt. Col. Valeho.

She says the sequestration decision impacts the very service members who help make sure the National Guard model runs successfully.

"We're basically the ones that hold down the fort until the weekends come, and then we have our training plans and our requirements to be fulfilled by those part-timers that come in so that we get the job done," explained Lt. Col. Valeho.

The furloughs are supposed to end when the new fiscal year starts on October 1, 2013, but officials admit additional budget cuts could be implemented.

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