Kentucky’s Adjutant General addresses troops regarding federal government shutdown

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Adjutant General for KentuckyOctober 2, 2013

To all members of the Kentucky National Guard and their families:

The Federal Government Shutdown has now adversely impacted our Kentucky Guard Family.

Due to the lack of appropriated funds for this new fiscal year, we’ve had to post-pone drill weekends, send Military/Civilian Technicians and ADOS home on furlough, and take our Guard Soldiers and Airmen out of vital skill qualification schools.

Over time, these cuts and furloughs will cripple our ability to respond to state emergencies. Lives will be at stake. The fiscal impact on many of our Soldiers, Airmen and their families will be devastating.

This senseless chaos of the Government Shutdown has resulted in the repeated furlough of our technician force and Troops on temporary duty.

For many of our Guard workforce, this is the second time within months that Congress’ inability to resolve budget issues has resulted in cuts in take-home-pay through furlough.

I am deeply concerned for you and your families and truly saddened by these political circumstances.

Please reach out to your leadership for continued support, counsel and up-to-date information regarding the Shutdown.

My fellow TAGs and I are working with our elected leaders and the National Guard Bureau to mitigate the impact of this shutdown on you and your family.

We are currently working to ensure our Guard is included in the “Pay Our Military Act” that Congress and the President signed before the shutdown.

This “Pay Our Military Act” was, indeed, a rare example of fast, decisive action taken by Congress and our President.  Our nation’s elected officials clearly recognized that this bill was the right thing to do for our country, and for those that have sacrificed so much to maintain our precious freedoms.

The legislation gives the Department of Defense broad latitude to pay service members and civilians.  The bill does not limit the provision of pay to civilians or certain service members who were previously categorized by the Administration as ‘excepted’ or ‘essential’ during sequestration furloughs.  The law that was recently passed is explicitly clear: all members of the Armed Forces, including Reserve component personnel serving in an active status, will be paid in the event of a government shutdown.  Further, the bill requires that civilian Department of Defense personnel “providing support to members of the Armed Forces” continue to receive their pay and allowances.

Unfortunately, Department of Justice / Department of Defense lawyers and bureaucrats listed a small handful of people that they consider “Mission Essential” and therefore, “Exempted” from the furloughs and layoffs. They have thus interpreted the law as EXCLUDING paying Guard and other Reserve Component Military Technicians and Soldier and Airmen serving on full time training/operational support orders.

This tact clearly demonstrates the continued and long-standing prejudice against the National Guard and other Reserve Components, despite our 12-year record as a combat-tested, cost effective, operational military force.

I assert that all Soldiers and Airmen of the Kentucky National Guard ARE mission critical to our Commonwealth and our country.

We stand ready, with a very lean force, to respond to the call of our Governor to save lives and property here at home.  We are the most cost-effective force to defend America abroad when called.

Unfortunately, DoD bureaucrats have reserved the right to decide who among us in our Guard Force gets paid and who doesn’t.

I am contacting both our Senators, every member of Kentucky’s Congressional Delegation, the White House, and leadership within DoD to express my disappointment in their actions.

I speak to these officials as both the Adjutant General of Kentucky and President of the Adjutant Generals Association of the United States.

Your voice needs to be heard and I will continue to carry it to the Hill.

You, too, can express your concerns to our elected officials.

Your voice, as a member of the Guard, is crucial to ensure that DoD includes all of us Guardsmen and Reservists in the “Pay Our Military Act”, as I believe it was originally intended. Our representatives, our senators and our President are all accountable to us and need to hear our concerns.

I will continue to keep your leadership apprised of our efforts in Washington.

I know the continuing budget uncertainty is stressful and frustrating. Please reach out to your Guard leadership for continued support.

Your professionalism and commitment to our Guard makes us the best force and the best Troops available for our Commonwealth and our country.

Thank you for your continued service in these very uncertain and challenging times.

God Bless you all.

Major General Ed Tonini
The Adjutant General – Kentucky

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