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Hawaii National Guard soldiers, airmen face furloughs

By Audrey McAvoy

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:31 p.m. HST, Jul 04, 2013

More than 1,100 National Guard soldiers and airmen in Hawaii — and thousands in other states — will be living with 20 percent less pay over the next three months as the Defense Department carries out automatic federal budget cuts.

Guard members will be furloughed for one day a week starting Monday, so helicopter pilots and mechanics, pay and finance clerks and others who keep the guard operating will have eight hours less each week to do their jobs.

It's not clear precisely what effects the unprecedented cuts will have. They could, however, make it more difficult for the guard to fly helicopters to help put out wildfires or rush to the scene of natural disasters in trucks.

"Our general sense is that short-term, it's going to be a terrible hardship for those soldiers, airmen and their families. But if it goes on for any length of time, that may have a negative impact on our readiness and our ability to respond," said Hawaii National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony.

The military's furloughs were only supposed to involve civilians, but large numbers of National Guard members who wear Army and Air Force uniforms full-time will experience them as well. The National Guard added military technicians to the furlough list in May, after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave official notice to begin furloughs for civilians.

It's not immediately clear how many uniformed personnel will be affected nationwide.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the furloughs, which will affect nearly 1,000 guardsmen in his state, are his biggest concern for this summer's hurricane season.

Some units will be exempt, like the 169th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron responsible for tracking aircraft in the skies above Hawaii. The 199th Fighter Squadron, which protects Hawaii airspace with F-22s, will be somewhat shielded from the effects of the cuts because it has a large number of active duty airmen.

But many others will have to squeeze 40 hours of work into 32 hours, and receive one-fifth less pay.

It could become difficult for mechanics to maintain helicopters and trucks at the same pace, meaning fewer aircraft and vehicles may be available when needed. Guardsmen who plan drills for the part-time soldiers and airmen who train on the weekend might have difficulty getting exercises ready.

"We don't know what will fall by the wayside because we've never had to do this before," Anthony said.

Commanders are trying to help guardsmen cope.

They invited financial and stress management counselors to talk to two groups of soldiers and airmen on Oahu, where the majority of Hawaii's full-time guardsmen work and live. The guard is sending a DVD recording of one of the sessions to guardsmen and women on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii islands.

Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong, the adjutant general, advised more than a hundred gathered on Monday that the budget cuts could last into the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1, but it's not known whether furloughs will continue.

He stressed he was available to help and shared his cellphone number with everyone in the room.

"You never want this to have happen to people under your watch," Wong said.

A financial counselor urged attendees to consider trimming unnecessary expenses like finance charges on credit cards, giving up cable TV and eating out less. He recommended telling children about the pay cuts and explaining why mom and dad can't afford to buy the same things as before.

Guardsmen could think about the good things that could come from furloughs, a family counselor suggested, like having more time to spend with family.

Spc. Christian Pasco, 27, who paints Humvees and other equipment, said he plans to talk to a financial counselor because he needs "somebody to tell me to stop spending my money."

Sgt. 1st Class Soloman Makaneole, a helicopter electrician who just returned from a nine-month deployment to Kosovo, said his family already has been cutting spending by eating out less often and packing lunches. His wife, a civilian Army employee, and mother-in-law, who works for the Navy as a civilian, are also being furloughed.

"A lot of it is common sense. For some people it's a shock because it's probably something new to them. I'm been without before, so it's not shocking. I can survive," Makaneole said.

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1local wrote:
transition all military positions to salary - unlimited work hours would be available. benefits such as healthcare and retirement would more than make up for pay - besides all the recognition for just doing their job...
on July 4,2013 | 08:27AM
Dtab wrote:
Duh, a servicemember is on salary and works 24/7 when on active duty/drills evidently you were never in the military, for the salary they make, sometimes it's better flipping burgers than serving our country for people like you, I know cause I'm both veteran of active duty and army reserve's!!!
on July 4,2013 | 09:14AM
allie wrote:
sorry but the country is broke. The national guard must sacrifice like all of us.
on July 4,2013 | 10:26AM
honopic wrote:
Sierra Tango Foxtrot Uniform, allie.
on July 4,2013 | 11:17AM
Oahuan2 wrote:
You must be a tacher, Alli.
on July 4,2013 | 05:21PM
Steve96785 wrote:
Negatory on that Oahuan, she's a UH student and sel-proclaimed expert on all subjects. No life experience other than slogging to school through the N. Dakota wintry snows uphill both ways. Ignore all of her blurbs...
on July 4,2013 | 05:28PM
tasod wrote:
What is frustrating is that the sequestration was suppose to impact all - fairly. The impact was supposed to be so severe that no-one would agree to it. Then the impacts started to actually happen and "exceptions" were made (ie FAA, Pearl Harbor workers). Now, I am one of those from the article above to bear an unfair burden. I was not too upset if all felt the pain - fairly. I am so disgusted about how this came about. But, don't worry your tax dollars are at work as units vie for "the extra money" (unfunded requests) for new furniture, fitness equipment etc (and some truly needed items).
on July 4,2013 | 09:32AM
primowarrior wrote:
It was supposed to be so severe than no one would agree to it, but in Washington these days, seems like nothing is sacred. Our military and first responders deserve better.
on July 4,2013 | 10:25AM
Steve96785 wrote:
Somehow I doubt that congress-folk are being hit with 20% pay cuts or even reductions in their staff or office budgets. CIC off on a major vacation to Africa probably not all on his own nickel or eating furlough days in the White House, either.
on July 4,2013 | 05:31PM
RingRing wrote:
OK so where is the crowd that was screaming, "Eh, times is bad bro, everybody gotta make sacrifices!" Now when the cuts get down to them they cry foul. . .??? Kinda hypocritical donchya think?
on July 4,2013 | 10:35AM
tasod wrote:
I am calling "foul" because they changed the rules and granted exceptions. I said above I could live with it as it was suppose to be across the board. Now it isn't..
on July 4,2013 | 11:04AM
realist3463 wrote:
Sequestration in DoD is what it is because the congress did not want the Defense Department to cut useless and unneeded programs because the Congressmen and women feared that their pet projects would be reduced or eliminated. By making the cut across the board and not targeted to useless projects, they all shielded themselves from any blame being placed on them from their constituents. Vote them all out.
on July 4,2013 | 11:05AM
cojef wrote:
Standards of living is a matter of survival, at least the 1st generation of immigrants survived with a very low standards. Also, WW2 kids grew up during rationing when foodstuff were very short in supply. One had the money, but the foodstuff was unavaialable. In spite of adversities we did manage to survive. Sequrstration can be dealt with prudence and belt tightening.
on July 4,2013 | 11:43AM
Ripoff wrote:
wow sucks for those in the Military. But fact is, those of us who are "civilians" have been suffering for the past 5 years..
on July 4,2013 | 01:04PM
Incadove wrote:
And yet the WH spends millions on vacations and star-studded parties... What's wrong with that picture?
on July 4,2013 | 03:17PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Abercrombie says we have 500 million a year to ensure health benefits for union retirees and their families but we can't afford to pay our national guard members so they'll be furloughed. I realize it's federal, not state funds that pay for the national guard troops but which is really more important?Abercrombie commands the Hawaii National guard does he not?
on July 4,2013 | 03:37PM
HD36 wrote:
Let's see where else could the government cut money that wouldn't hurt US citizens? What about cutting out foreign aid? Obama wants to give Africa $700 billion to build a power plant.
on July 4,2013 | 04:04PM
Steve96785 wrote:
Figure I've heard for the power plant is only $7B, but with cost overruns, corruption and contract revisions it could reach your figure.
on July 4,2013 | 05:34PM
HD36 wrote:
You're right. I was reading about the $700 billion Troubled Asset Releif Program ,(TARP) today.
on July 4,2013 | 06:37PM
HD36 wrote:
The US has been able to live way beyond its means for decades because the dollar is the world's reserve currency. The Fed is printing $85 billion a month. The demand isn't there anymore. Bilateral trade agreements to bypass the dollar by China, Russia, Brazil, Japan, and Australia to name a few, means less demand, higher interest rates, and more government cuts in social security, medicare, military, and government jobs worldwide. You can't defy the laws supply and demand in the long term, and wer'e nearing the end of the road.
on July 4,2013 | 05:02PM
Oahuan2 wrote:
How come our senators and representatives aren't taking any furlough? We'd surely all be better off if they were out of the office a day a week and we'd save a whole lot more money if their paychecks were trimmed by 20 percent. But I remember getting a letter from Dan Inouye a few years ago telling me they were required by law to take their pay raises, so that explains it. Yeah right.
on July 4,2013 | 05:20PM
HD36 wrote:
Now we'll never be able to surround China, Russia, and Iran.
on July 4,2013 | 06:43PM
sailfish1 wrote:
It's not forever. It's 3 months. The country has a financial budget crisis and people everywhere have given up some pay in one form or another. Let's not start crying and whining again.
on July 4,2013 | 07:34PM
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