Furloughs weigh on Florida National Guard

By Jenna Carpenter | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Military personnel from all over the country are beginning to feel the effects of the mandatory budget cuts in the Department of Defense. The threat of the impending budget cuts is a cause of stress for those who will be affected, and members of the Florida National Guard are not immune.

In response to these cuts, the Florida National Guard has seen a $30 million reduction, and this number is projected to increase to $54 million. The Florida National Guard may be forced to issue furloughs to civilians that will last from the end of April through the end of September.

According to the St. Augustine Record, the furloughs will affect 993 guardsmen, most of who live in northeastern Florida.

March 1 was the first day of Sequestration. A budget Sequestration is when spending cuts start automatically.

Adjutant General of Florida, Maj. Gen. Emmet Titshaw, released a statement to those in the Florida National Guard.

“We are preparing to absorb defined cuts that will affect our people and our operations,” he said. “The potential furlough of civilian and military technicians (including temporary technicians) will not be implemented immediately.”

However, Titshaw also said that the Guard needs a plan in case the furloughs pass.

“We are continuing to examine any potential impacts to other employees, to include those state employees funded through federal cooperative agreements and those in support of our non-personnel service contracts,” he said.

According to Titshaw, Sequestration was the result of the $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts. He says that the Sequestration has the potential for spreading out over 10 years.

Master Sgt. Tom Kielbasa is a public affairs specialist, and is based in St. Augustine. Because he is a Department of Defense civilian, he will have to take 14 days of Sequestration furlough days if the furlough is passed.

The 14-day Sequestration will affect Kielbasa’s home life and family. They will have to make some new lifestyle changes, and since they have known about the Sequestration for a couple of months, they are already making concessions.

Kielbasa says that he and his family are going to have to cut out any unnecessary expenses like going out to eat, travel and vacations.

“If the furloughs are instituted, I will lose 14 days of pay for the remainder of the fiscal year. As I am the only wage-earner in my household, we will really have to cut any non-essential expenses from our budget,” he said.

However, the furlough will not just affect guardsmen and their families. Kielbasa also says the Guard itself will suffer.

“The Sequestration could result in delayed construction projects, reduced flying hours for aircraft, reduced training opportunities, and reduction in overall work during furlough days,” he said.

The Guard is already seeing this happen. According to the St. Augustine Record, seven projects have been postponed from the 125 Fighter Wing, which is located in Jacksonville.

Both Kielbasa and Titshaw stress the uncertainty of the potential furloughs, and agree that it is the cause of the most anxiety.

Titshaw’s main concern is for the well-being of his fellow guardsmen. He is working to “help alleviate some of the uncertainty and anxiety” of the situation and promises to keep everyone informed as soon as new information is given.

Kielbasa, however, focuses on the well-being of the families who could be affected.

“Each family has different circumstances to deal with during these potential furloughs,” he said.

“The uncertainty of Sequestration has made this difficult to actually plan out our budget for the next five months,” he said. “But I know little things like dinners out or unnecessary shopping will come to an end.”

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