Shutdown puts military family's move in limbo - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Shutdown puts military family's move in limbo

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A military family is going broke after the government shutdown complicated their move from Schofield Barracks to the mainland.

Staff Sgt. Jessie Smith received orders last month to move to Fort Gordon in Georgia. She has been in the military for nine years, with multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Smith met Christina Ridgley in Hawaii; the two were married here, and again in California after the federal Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional. On Sept. 3, the Army recognized them as spouses, and Ridgley-Smith, herself an Air Force veteran, was given a military ID. The Army also recognized Ridgley-Smith's two children as Smith's stepchildren and military dependents.

It was just days later that Smith received her transfer order, The two immediately began the process of applying for what's known as a Command Sponsorship.

"It involved a lot of appointments and things like that, physicals to make sure we're in good health, just to make sure they could fly her out of Hawaii," said Smith.

Under a Command Sponsorship, the military pays for a move for an overseas assignment, which includes assignments in Hawaii. The military provides travel costs for all family members and a ten-day temporarily lodging allowance, and also gives a higher weight allowance for shipping household goods.

The two got all the paperwork done to get the command sponsorship and waited for approval. 

"Just a couple of days is normally how long it takes," said Smith. "And then the government shutdown happened."

According to Smith and Ridgley-Smith, the workers handling their paperwork were among those who were furloughed in the shutdown.

However, the military had already begun process of moving them to Georgia. "They packed up our entire house and shipped it on September 30th," said Ridgley-Smith. "So our house is totally empty. We have the belongings in our suitcase."

Smith has to leave Hawaii by Oct. 14. They have been paying out of pocket for all four to stay at a hotel until then. They also are trying to get an airline ticket for Ridgley-Smith and the children.

"Unless the shutdown ends soon, then we will be out of five, six thousand dollars of our own money," said Ridgley-Smith. "We're not that wealthy."

Ridgley-Smith has already sold some of her jewelry to raise money. The situation has left her angry at what's going on in Washington.

"A complete and utter disappointment in my government," said Ridgley-Smith. "Complete and utter disappointment in my government."

The two still plan to move to Georgia together, no matter what, even if the shutdown drags on past the 14th, while the children will remain with their father in Hawaii. They are hoping that the Pentagon's civilian workers who are being recalled will include someone who can approve their command sponsorship.

"I don't want to leave my family here because financially it's going to be a hardship taking care of them here. It's going to be a hardship to take them to Georgia, said Smith. "But I will sacrifice what I have to because I don't want to be without my wife."

 

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