Iowa National Guard troops feel impact of the shutdown
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
With the exception of the Iowa National Guard’s 832nd Engineer Company based out of Mt. Pleasant, not many local people have felt the negative impact of the Federal government shutdown on Oct. 1, yet.
Drill was cancelled this past weekend for the 832nd Engineer Company, which means those soldiers will not get paid this month, but the training will be rescheduled.
“Our drill has been pushed off, but we are still keeping the same amount of periods for the year, we will just put them in different months to make up the difference,” said Sgt. 1st Class Frank Jacobs of the 832 Engineer Company.
While the soldiers will not be receiving pay this month due to the missed drill, they will still be covered by life insurance and will have to make up the cost for that with their paycheck from the next drill. “There is life insurance that the military covers, so they will be covered regardless of if we drill, but they will accrue a debt for next month’s check. If a soldier passes away this month from an accident or something, their family is still covered.”
Another major effect the shutdown will have on some soldiers is their potential retirement date. Soldiers need to put in 20 years in order to retire from the National Guard, but if they enlisted during the month of October, they may not have the required amount of training hours in due to losing hours from this month’s drill.
“If they enlisted between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 or when ever we have our next drill, it could potentially extend his ability to retire,” said Jacobs. “When he reaches 19 years — since we aren’t able to drill this month — he didn’t get enough time in for a year, so it would make him do an additional year before he can retire. Generally it won’t effect it because we would have made up enough hours during our annual training each year, but there is a chance it could effect somebody and they would have to do 21 years instead of 20 to retire.”
Jacobs also expressed concern on how the shutdown could effect enlistment of new soldiers.
“If you look at new enlistments, new soldiers that are coming in, these guys are thinking, ‘Well you guys are shutting down, is that going to effect me in the long run?’ it can have a lasting effect in just the mindset of the younger generation that is coming in,” said Jacobs.
According to Jacobs, all of the soldiers who are Active Duty Reserve (AGR) are still working, but technicians have been furloughed due to the shutdown.
“All the guys who are AGR are still working, but we are short-staffed as far as our technicians are involved,” said Jacobs. “They support all of the repairs to our vehicles and all of our equipment. If it gets broken right now, it is not being fixed. They can’t work on it.
“Anything we have regularly scheduled service on our vehicles — say those that are scheduled for the next two weeks or until my technicians are back on — all of those services are going to be put off,” continued Jacobs. “It can have a long lasting effect. I could have five vehicles that are scheduled to go in for services, but I’m not going to be able to use those vehicles when we come in for training. This is their full-time job and they aren’t getting paid and don’t have anything right now. Some of them have picked up second jobs, which is kind of difficult when you are working 40 plus hours and have family stuff and then try to work an additional job on top of it.”
Regardless of the shutdown, Jacobs says the soldiers of the 832nd Engineering Company are ready to do what is needed of them.
“We are here operating. We are always able to perform our duties. If it comes down to it, the solders and full-time staff are here to support the community.”