A letter from the Adjutant General about the Government shutdown

Posted on Oct 5, 2013 in FY2014, In The News, News Release

To all members of our Hawaii National Guard and your families:

I wanted to express to you my deepest concern for you and your families over this Federal Government shutdown and the impact it has on our Hawaii National Guard Family.

Due to the lack of appropriated funds for this new fiscal year, we have postponed drill weekends, sent Military/Civilian Technicians and ADOS home on furlough, and taken our Guard Soldiers and Airmen out of vital skill qualification schools.

For many of you, this is the second time within months that Congress’ inability to resolve budget issues has resulted in cuts in take-home-pay through furlough.

Over time, these cuts and furloughs may even impact our ability to respond to state emergencies.

I will continue to update you on the latest news that we get from Washington, D.C. and updates we get daily from Gen Grass (Chief, National Guard Bureau). Things are changing daily, and at times, hourly and I hope to have good news for you soon.

I am working with my fellow TAGs and our elected leaders and the National Guard Bureau to mitigate the impact of this shutdown on you and your family.

We are currently working to ensure our Guard is included in the “Pay Our Military Act” that Congress and the President signed before the shutdown.

This “Pay Our Military Act” was, indeed, a rare example of fast, decisive action taken. Our nation’s elected officials clearly recognized that this bill was the right thing to do for our country, and for those that have sacrificed so much to maintain our precious freedoms.

The legislation gives the Department of Defense broad latitude to pay service members and civilians. The bill does not limit the provision of pay to civilians or certain service members who were previously categorized by the Administration as ‘excepted’ or ‘essential’ during sequestration furloughs. The law that was recently passed is explicitly clear: all members of the Armed Forces, including Reserve Component personnel serving in an active status, will be paid in the event of a government shutdown.

Further, the bill requires that civilian Department of Defense personnel “providing support to members of the Armed Forces” continue to receive their pay and allowances.

Unfortunately, Department of Justice /Department of Defense lawyers listed a small handful of people that they consider “Mission Essential” and therefore, “Exempted” from the furloughs and layoffs. They have thus interpreted the law as EXCLUDING paying Guard and other Reserve Component Military Technicians and Soldier and Airmen serving on full time training/operational support orders.

This has clearly demonstrated the continued and long-standing misunderstanding of the National Guard.

All of our Guardsmen are critical to this State and the Nation.

The TAGs are contacting every member of our Congressional Delegations, the White House, and leadership within DoD to express our disappointment over these actions. A letter signed by 50 Senators including ours to ask the SECDEF to broaden the interpretation was sent. Legislation is being pushed through the House to amend an existing bill that would also cancel the furlough of our valuable Guardsmen. These actions have been putting pressure to get our people back to work and there is positive movement towards this.

There is also a HR 3223 that has passed in the House but must still pass in the Senate to provide retroactive pay for you who have been furloughed.

I will continue to keep you and the HING leadership apprised of our efforts in Washington.

I know the continuing budget uncertainty is stressful and frustrating. Please reach out to our Guard leadership for continued support and help if needed.

God Bless all of you.