The leader of the Vermont National Guard says budget cuts caused by the federal sequester are having both short-term and long-term impacts on the Guard here.
Major General Steven Cray, the adjutant General of the Vermont National Guard, says the immediate concern is the 500 military technicians in Vermont who’ve been forced to take furloughs this summer, amounting to a 20 percent cut in each paycheck. “The longer it goes on, the harder it’s going to be for our members," Cray says. "Some of them are going to start looking for other ways to supplement that 20 percent pay cut.”
The long-term effects of federal budget cuts are also on General Cray’s mind, partly because the outlook for resolving the budget impasse is uncertain. "One day a week for the next few months I think we could probably endure. But it’s the readiness and the equipment statuses that I’m worried for the long term. Because it doesn’t look like this budget crunch is going to end anytime soon.”
A month away from the anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, General Cray says the furloughs would not stop the Guard from responding to a similar disaster. “We have the ability – the governor and myself – the ability to recall those folks back, "reassures Cray. "So if we do have a state emergency between now and September, we can get those folks back on state active duty and accomplish the mission.”
The furloughs in the Vermont National Guard amount to $2 million in savings in the Department of Defense budget.