Hawaii National Guard furloughs take effect this week

Hawaii National Guard furloughs take effect this week
Published: Jul. 7, 2013 at 8:32 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 8, 2013 at 2:22 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Monday will not be a work day for some 1,100 full-time members of the Hawaii Army National Guard. It will be a furlough day, thanks to federal sequestration budget cuts.

Every Monday will be a furlough day until the end of September for the Army and Air National Guard women and women who wear the uniform, but are technically counted as federal Department of Defense civilians.

"These federal technicians are really the backbone of our organization, and they're Monday through Friday, keeping the equipment ready, making sure that aircraft and vehicles are maintained," said Hawaii National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony.

They're also responsible for keeping the so-called traditional members of the National Guard ready. "Having one less day a week to prepare for, even for the traditional soldiers coming in for their drill weekends, that's all prepped by full-time guys," said state Rep. K. Mark Takai (D), who chairs the House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

The National Guard has had some time to anticipate the furloughs and the accompanying pay cut. "But a 20 percent cut for the next three months is pretty serious," said Takai. "So when you talk about the effects to the economy and the concern that we have at the state anytime you have some kind of furlough or layoffs, it has an impact."

Officials aren't completely sure what the impact will be, but it is a concern curing a critical part of the year. "These are part of our disaster preparedness, our disaster response component. So as a state right in the heart of hurricane season, it is a concern," said Takai.

"Near term we think it's manageable, but as this thing drags on longer and longer, we're concerned that there may be some impact on our readiness and our ability to respond," said Anthony.

While these furloughs are supposed to end with the federal fiscal year on September 30, there's still a chance more budget cuts and furloughs are ahead.

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