Furloughed employees return to work at the 177th Fighter Wing - NBC40.net

Furloughed employees return to work at the 177th Fighter Wing

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With the government shutdown still in effect, some local employees that were furloughed last week are now back to work in Egg Harbor Township.

"They're back to work - but we still have a long way to go before we're back to normal," said Colonel Kerry Gentry, Commander of the 177th Fighter Wing.

Almost a week after the government furloughed nearly 200 Air National Guard members, military officials in Egg Harbor Township say that as of 10:30 Monday morning, they have been recalled to the base.

Airman 1st Class, Adrian Ortiz, told NBC40, "It’s good to be busy. It's good to be back at work." Ortiz says that after being sent home last week, he was somewhat nervous for his family's financial future. Ortiz explained, "It does get difficult when we can't provide our loved ones with the financial support they need - but I just hope for the best and will wait to see what happens."

As the furloughed employees make their way back to the base, military officials say they are glad to have them back. However, as Congress works towards finalizing the national budget, local, federal employees will not be receiving a paycheck.

Colonel Gentry said, "I have my young folks that are here, driving into work day-in and day-out. So, the cost of gas, the cost of tolls, the cost of daycare…and now they are essentially working, waiting for their paycheck as this carries on."

The employees were able to return to work after the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice concluded that under the Pay our Military Act, “The law allows the DoD to eliminate furloughs for employees who contribute to the morale, capabilities and readiness of service members.”

Colonel Gentry told NBC40, "In the case of this, because we have a federal mission going on here, all of my full-time employees are here to support that mission. So therefore, we fall under the umbrella of the Department of Defense's interpretation of the Pay our Military Act."

Military employees, like Adrian Ortiz, say they expect to be paid, "As of right now, it looks like we are going to receive a retro-payment...but you know, until that money is in hand…we'll see."

Officials say the future is still uncertain. Colonel Gentry said, "It's a challenge for my leadership, it's a challenge for the individuals - and we continue to focus on being professional and sustaining the nation and state's needs - but it does have implications over the long run. What they'll be, I don't know."

While these federal employees are back to work, the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May reports that 59 of 95 civilian employees remain furloughed there, along with 16 contracted employees.

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