Govt. Shutdown Affects Oregon Military

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Lawmakers are back at work trying to resolve the stalemate that’s keeping the government running in a limited capacity.

About 11 percent of the Oregon Military Department is furloughed because of the shutdown. The department is made up of about 9,000 citizen soldiers, airmen and civilians, of which about 1,000 were notified to stay at home as of Oct. 1.

“There’s some reduced manning around the building,” said Maj. Scot Caughran, Oregon National Guard.

While things have been a bit quieter at the Springfield Armory the last few days.

At this location, Major Caughran watches over six units, or 810 soldiers. Of those, just one–a federal technician–is on furlough.

“As far as impact, we really haven’t noticed a lot of it yet…we’re hoping it’s as short as possible, but I think we’ll feel more of the effects as more time passes without a resolution,” Maj. Caughran said.

But Maj. Caughran says a training exercise scheduled to start Friday has been delayed, and that will affect quite a few more.

“Different personnel, I imagine could act differently based on what their civilian occupation is and how reliant they are on their National Guard check, but it does have a level of impact on everyone,” Maj. Caughran said.

Spc. Lance McElroy has been with the Oregon National Guard for two years now, and was scheduled to start his regular training Friday, Instead, he’s at home because he’d already requested the days off from work.

“Now I’m short three days from my normal pay check, and usually I make it up working drill, but now I can’t work drill until later on this month,” Spc. McElroy said.

And that’s just part of his concern.

“The G.I. Bill–I’m going to school right now. It’s up in limbo I guess about whether or not they’re going to pay it, so I don’t know if I can keep going to school,” Spc. McElroy said.

McElroy says part of that money also helps him pay for the roof over his family’s head. While he’s glad to have extra time at home with family, the uncertainty is unsettling.

“Usually it’s just work and you don’t have much time for the family. It’s nice to have three days off actually…but then again it all comes down to money,” Spc. McElroy said.

“So we’re just looking at it day by day and dealing what we have deal with and hoping that it’s resolved,” Maj. Caughran said.

National Guard representatives there said they’ve been told the shutdown may last for about 10 to 20 days. But if it goes past a month, those drills won’t be rescheduled. Rather, they’ll likely get cancelled, and that will definitely be a cause of concern for many. They say they are doing their best to provide these employees access to any help they need.

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