Sequester to trigger pay cut for DOD employees, impact National Guard

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Thousands of Indiana Department of Defense employees are preparing to see their paychecks cut by 20 percent.

The sequester will soon trigger furloughs for roughly 11,000 DOD employees in Indiana. That includes civilian employees of the Defense Finance and Accounting Services and civilian employees of the Indiana National Guard.

Captain Justin Newett has already given his service to his country oversees, but now, as an Administrative Officer for the Indiana National Guard, he’s prepared to give up even more due to the sequester.

“It’s going to be rough,” Newett said. “It’s not going to be painless, that’s for sure.”

Captain Newett is among the roughly 1,000 Military Technicians for the Indiana National Guard who will be hit by a furlough, which forces them to take one unpaid day off per week from April to September. If a deal isn’t reached by Congress before the end of the furlough, Newett will lose at least 20 percent of his pay.

“The wife’s a technician as well,” Newett said, “so it will be a 20 percent hit to both of us.”

Newett said he and his wife are now considering whether to seek different jobs or take part-time work to lessen the impact on their daughter.

“(She) isn’t going to be able to do dance class anymore,” he said. “We’ll have to rely on the family for picking up before and after care and things like that. (We’ll) cut back on expenditures anywhere and everywhere.”

The furloughs will also translate into cuts for the National Guard, which could impact readiness efforts.

“Over time what we’ll see is a degradation of maintenance capabilities as well,” said Lt. Col. Cathy Van Bree, with the Indiana National Guard. “A lot of our technicians are wrench turners. They’re in ground maintenance. They’re also in aviation maintenance.”

But Van Bree said the Guard will still be capable of responding when disaster strikes.

“When we are sent out for a national or state emergency, we do not typically deploy 100 percent of our capabilities to begin with,” Van Bree said. “So we have 14,000 personnel, both Army and Air in the Indiana National Guard that are ready to respond at any time.”

“We’ll deal with it,” Newett said. “We’ll salute the flag and drive on. Indiana’s got a lot of great men and women in uniform that serve that are going to make sure the mission gets done.”

Lt. Col. Van Bree said the full extent of the sequester won’t be known until they have a better indication of how spending cuts will impact military services.

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