Jacksonville, FL - Although hundreds of thousands of civilian DoD workers returned to work today, several hundred National Guardsmen in Northeast Florida are still facing furloughs.
“We’re not out of the woods, even with the POMA we still have impacts,” says Lieutenant Colonel James Evans.
The POMA, or “Pay Our Military Act”, was passed through Congress and signed by the President shortly before the partial government shutdown took effect. The Secretary of Defense and others spent last week sorting through the Act to determine exactly how it affected the various military departments dealing with the shutdown.
Evans, Director of Public Affairs for the Florida National Guard, says there were initially questions on whether the National Guard was included in POMA- another bill even passed through the House to ensure that was the case. The legal conclusion was the National Guard could, in fact, be included- bringing more than 700 federal National Guard employees in Northeast Florida and nearly 1,000 statewide back to work today.
But Evans says there are nearly 300 state National Guardsmen funded through federal grants or cooperative funding agreements, and about 183 of those are still furloughed because of a lack of funding. They will not be back on the job until a budget or Continuing Resolution is passed.
“Virtually all of them are in Northeast Florida,” Evans says.
Those still furloughed perform jobs which include security, maintenance and other safety measures- including firefighting operations for the Guard.
And among those who were brought back, Evans says they only have funding through POMA to pay the workers through October 22nd.
“There’s still quite a bit of jeopardy in the future that needs to be resolved in Congress,” he says.
Additionally, money for routine training has not been restored. That means unit trainings, like ones that were scheduled for this past weekend, have been cancelled or postponed.
Evans says this has a twofold impact. Most immediately, the 12,000 or so Florida National Guardsmen who participate in, and receive pay from, these trainings are not getting the money they had accounted for. Secondly, this still puts some certifications at risk because if Guardsmen do not perform activities, like flying, a certain number of times every few weeks or months, they need to go back through the trainings to be considered mission ready.
Any trainings being performed by those about to be deployed overseas or mission being conducted under specific order because of their impact on national security are still being performed.