As the government shutdown continues into the third day, Delaware military personnel are feeling the strain.
On Monday the Delaware National Guard sent 350 fulltime soldiers and airmen home without pay until further notice while the Dover Air Force Base furloughed 500 civilian personnel workers as well as shut down its library, commissary and health and wellness center.
Only a few people have been able to report to work at DAFB thanks to funds from the “Transportation Working Capital Fund” even though spokesman Tony Richardson says that will run out in about a week.
“That’s another 230 subjected to furlough,” said Richardson.
All other military personnel continue to work without a paycheck. While some are “promised” money when the shutdown is over, there are concerns about who the “Pay our Military Act” applies to. The act was passed by Congress just before the shutdown.
“Right now there’s discussion on whether it’s just people on active duty or is it active duty for the reserve and guard as well,” said Lt. Col. Len Gratteri of the Delaware National Guard.
Richardson added that they didn’t receive enough guidance about the piece of legislation.
“Will there be delays to our paychecks? We really don’t know,” added Richardson.
Despite the shutdown, business continues as usual.
“We have to find a way to make everything run with a third of our staff because the expectation is, if there’s a need for us to meet a mission, we’re going to meet the mission, it’s just a lot more difficult,” said Gratteri.
Gratteri says the stress is taking a toll on morale.
“You can imagine, no one is happy,” said Gratteri. “There’s a lot of tension, there’s a lot of pressure. You have people who are coming into work, not knowing when they’re going to get paid. That’s doesn’t mean the bills stop. If you have a bill due on the 15th, it doesn’t matter if you get paid or not, you have to find a way to pay your bill. It’s very frustrating to be caught in the middle of this.”
Those affected by the shutdown may qualify for unemployment benefits. Additionally, family support programs and counselors are available help troops and their families.