Guardsmen can't drill, be paid because of shutdown - CBS46 News

Guardsmen can't drill, be paid because of shutdown

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Nearly 14,000 Georgia National Guardsmen who were supposed to do monthly drills this week across the state are being told to stay home because of the furlough for federal workers.

They likely won't get paid for the missed drills unless they are rescheduled - which depends on Congress reaching a resolution for a 2014 budget.

Ashley Fontenot, a sergeant with the Army National Guard, said missing the drill that she would have taken part in at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta means missing out on important training that keeps guardsmen ready.

"This weekend we were supposed to do a number of things, including a PT test and some rifle marksmanship training," Fontenot said. "We're going to the range next month so we just needed some classroom training to refresh us on the basics of marksmanship."

Members of the National Guard stand ready to serve in conflicts overseas and for situations domestically, such as severe weather. With Tropical Storm Karen headed to the Gulf Coast, Fontenot isn't sure if National Guard units in surrounding states will be called for help.

"We still are ready," Fontenot said. "If something happened right now I have no doubt that we would come together and do something."

Fontenot also worries about pay and financial benefits that guardsmen are missing out on because of the government shutdown.

"For my family, we're just a middle-class family, and we work on a budget every month, so this month we just won't have that little extra to help us out with the bills," Fontenot said. "A lot of soldiers in my unit are still in school, and they really depend on this money - tuition assistance and drill pay - to help them with that."

Fontenot said it is possible that if Congress passes a budget soon the drill weekend could be rescheduled. But even that might not be a perfect fix.

"I think that they are going to do that," Fontenot said. "But the problem with that is that people have been planning for this drill weekend for a long time. The majority of guardsmen have civilian jobs, too, like me."

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