On Monday, Oct. 7, Virgin Islands National Guardsmen (VING) and most support employees were recalled to duty under the Pay Our Military Act (POMA). The act permits the Department of Defense (DoD) to pay military personnel and DoD civilian employees. Reimbursement of pay lost due to the furlough is still to be determined, according to DoD. In a Pentagon statement dated Oct. 7, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated he was pleased that most Defense Department civilians are returning to work, and he thanked the leadership for quickly implementing the recent DOD guidance regarding the furloughs.
Most National Guard members are part-time military members and hold regular civilian jobs. DoD aims to bring all civilian employees back to work as soon as possible. VING recalled 128 furloughed civilian employees, but non-exempted employees and federally reimbursed employees are still furloughed. According to the National Guard Bureau, 385,000 Army National Guardsmen and 114,000 Air National Guardsmen were affected across the nation as a result of the federal government shutdown.
The Adjutant General for the Virgin Islands Major General Renaldo Rivera regrets having to furlough employees and hopes the budget impasse gets resolved in a timely manner. Guardsmen are paid to train one weekend each month and two weeks each year. As a result of the shutdown, VING cancelled last weekend’s training exercise (a.k.a. drill) due to lack of funding for training events. Although guardsmen are under the command of a state’s adjutant general and governor, they are paid by the federal government during the monthly training period.
Resources are available to assist service members and beneficiaries during these challenging times. The V. I. National Guard Family Program can share its list of community-based resources available in the territory and through Web-based services. (www.vi.ngb.army.mil)
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