Retired ATF agent furloughed in 1995 - CBS46 News

Retired ATF agent furloughed in 1995

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Vanessa McLemore is enjoying retirement. She worked for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for 25 years.

She retired as the Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta region. 

McLemore has a vivid memory of the last government shutdown.

"In 1995 I was a special agent with ATF. I was working in our headquarters in the Office of Office review. That's the office where agents would travel all across the country and inspect ATF offices nationwide," said McLemore.

Bill Clinton was president and Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House of Representatives. McLemore said, at the time, she was working in San Jose, California.

"We received the call that we were being furloughed and had to return back to Washington DC," McLemore said. "Initially everyone was very concerned about that because now you are in another state all the way across country, you are being furloughed, you have to stop what you are doing, all the work had to cease and we all had to fly back to Washington, D.C."

Sworn federal officers are not typically furloughed, as is the case now, but at the time McLemore had a different assignment.

"Since I was working in the office review, I was working aside non-sworn officers, we were doing a lot of administrative work."

McLemore said she was confident she would be reinstated as soon as she returned to Washington.

"Two days later the furlough was lifted," she said.

McLemore said it will take some time for the current federal employees now furloughed to get over it.

"It's going to take a healing process for people to get through this. It's not going to be over night, I think that is something people have to understand," McLemore said. "When you furlough someone you are taking away their livelihood, taking their womanhood and manhood. They have to go home to their children and say, 'I'm not going to work today and I don't know when I'm going back to work.' That's a hard pill to swallow."

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