National Guardsmen deal with furloughs

July 25, 2013 3:00:38 PM PDT
When the national sequestration law was going to put active duty soldiers on furloughs there was a backlash, and Congress quickly pulled back on that.

But now, some national guardsman could still be furloughed.

Chief Warrant Officer John Karmire works at the state's National Guard headquarters in West Raleigh and is also a helicopter pilot. He and 1,000 other full-time guardsmen and women are three weeks into a program that cuts their work week by a day.

"You take a 20 percent pay cut. It's a big deal," said Karmire.

Karmire has a son in college and the usual bills that all families have, but they are much harder to cover with a pay cut during a recession. It's not good for him and it may not be good for North Carolina.

"We have a 32 hour work week," said Karmire. "So we have less aircraft to fly, less people working on aircraft."

Karmire and the brass at the guard headquarters say they will make sure they still fulfill their mission to serve the state even if it's a struggle. That includes everything from defending against terrorist threats to helping during natural disasters like hurricanes.

Of course it can also include deployments overseas. However, for the most part it's a behind-the-scenes mission, which could be part of the problem

"It's good to be transparent, you know, like seen but not heard, if you will," said Karmire, "but sometimes I think somebody needs to beat the drum for us."

That may be up to the same citizens who stood up against furloughs for active duty military.

Karmire says there is now talk of extending guard furloughs into 2014 and only an effort by citizens to lobby Congress is likely to change that.

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