Democrats and Republicans failed to come to an agreement on an extension to fund the U.S. government last Friday.
As a result, civilian employees across Fort Bragg were instructed to come to work Monday morning and prepare for an absence of indeterminate length.
At noon non-essential employees were sent home as part of a furlough mandated by the failure to pass appropriations legislation in Congress.
Service members were instructed to continue to report for duty.
Although Fort Bragg remained operational, many key services on Fort Bragg would have been heavily affected by an extended furlough.
The impacted services would have included:
The closing of the Law Enforcement Center Records Section, impacting criminal background checks and copies of police reports;
The commissary would have closed after Wednesday;
There would have been no out-processing for permanent change of station moves, unless to a deploying unit;
Education services would have been limited;
Equal Employment Opportunity office would have been closed;
Recreational access to Fort Bragg’s training areas would have been suspended;
Support to Soldiers and Families by the Directorate of Public Works for off-post housing issues would have been suspended.
Army Community Service, Victim Advocacy, Financial Readiness, Exceptional Family Member Program, Family Advocacy Programs and the Soldier and Family Assistance Center would all have remained available but with limited support and increased wait times
Throckmorton Library would also have operated with limited support.
In order to answer questions and to support furloughed staff in anyway possible, a meeting was held at Pope Theater, Monday.
Deputy Garrison Commander Justin Mitchell, who was sent home as part of the furlough, and Garrison Commander Col. Kyle Reed shared information about the shutdown with those in attendance.
Mitchell described the preparations made by Fort Bragg leadership to ensure that Fort Bragg residents would remain safe and protected and Soldiers would remain mission ready.
“The only thing that we can control is to let you know we are going to get through this as a Family just like we have every other time,” said Mitchell.
Not everyone was impacted in the same way during a government shutdown, as different jobs fall under different categories.
Emergency essential personnel, such as fire fighters, military police, those who see to the health, life and safety of those on the installation are considered emergency essential.
Exempted personnel, such as some who produce orders, as Soldiers going to deploying units would be sent to those units despite the shutdown, were also not furloughed.
Personnel on the installation who are paid by non-appropriated funds would also continue to work, such as some employees at gyms and child development centers, as they are paid for with Soldier dollars and not tax dollars, said Mitchell.
Ray Lacey, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation was asked to stand in Mitchell’s stead, and serve as a civilian leader on post, as FMWR funds are non-appropriated.
“We have realized some of the jobs that are currently not emergency essential should be reevaluated as emergency essential,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell assured those in attendance that moving forward measures are being taken to clarify these categories.
Reed and Mitchell implored those who may face financial hardship in the event of an extended furlough not seek loans from payday loan shops, but reach out to available resources.
“There is no easy answer… we can work with you … take a look at how to get you by,” said Mitchell.
After speaking to those in attendance Reed and Mitchell took questions from concerned employees alongside Kay Peterson, Supervisory Human Resource Specialist, Civilian Personnel Advisory Service.
Questions were centered on pay and information.
Those who were not furloughed would be paid when the shutdown ended and those furloughed were not guaranteed to receive pay once Congress came to an agreement. This would depend on how the legislation was written. It was recommended that those considering leaving the area contact their supervisors.
Additionally, it was stressed that the best source of up to date information about the shutdown and impact on employees and services would come from individual’s chain of command.
In addition to military and civilian leadership, chaplains were on hand for support and counseling.
“I just ask everybody to bring some patience to this process… and we are here to help whether it is resources, whether it is counseling … please don’t hesitate to raise your hand and let us know, so we can find the right resources to assist you,” said Reed.
Alice Stephens, a retired service member and the Fort Bragg Army Volunteer Corps coordinator for Army Community Services, said her concern was for some of her coworkers, those new to government service that may be more severely financially impacted in the event of a long furlough.
“I am feeling for them more than myself, but I hope that they (Congress) can come together and come to a resolution, and we can work together as one, for the good of the people,” said Stephens.
And come together they did, at least temporarily.
Although employees were welcomed back to work Tuesday morning after Congress reached a deal Monday, it is important to note that all of this information may yet still be pertinent.
The current stopgap agreement only fully funds the government until Feb. 7.