By Adam Tamburin / The Tennessean
Steep budget cuts associated with the sequester are poised to
affect hundreds of thousands who depend on services at Fort Campbell,
from veterans to the soldiers' children who go to school there.
all civilian workers on post, including teachers, face the possibility
of up to 22 days of furloughs, which are needed to offset at least $55
million in budget cuts scheduled to hit the home of the 101st Airborne
Division, Col. David L. "Buck" Dellinger said Thursday.
"We're still in the planning stage and hoping we do not have to implement these plans," Dellinger said.
Furloughs will begin to take effect in April unless Congress acts to undo sequestration beforehand.
furloughs for teachers and school staff become a reality, officials
said, Fort Campbell schools could close on Fridays while they go without
pay. Excess snow days would be used to offset the impact, according to
spokesman Robert Jenkins.
President Barack Obama referenced the
possibility of truncated school schedules during a news conference
Friday at the White House.
Obama criticized Congress for failing
to act, citing the concerns of parents deployed to Afghanistan,
wondering if their children will lose valuable classroom time.
More than 5,000 soldiers from Fort Campbell are in Afghanistan, and two other brigades are preparing to deploy later this year.
maintained that students' educations would not be disrupted by the
furloughs, adding that those approaching graduation and advancement
would remain on track.
Furloughs are only one element of the defense cuts triggered by the sequester.
Fort Campbell has instituted a hiring freeze. Some temporary employees
have been terminated, and some term workers' contracts have expired
More problems are going to start surfacing later in the year, Dellinger said, when maintenance on vehicles and facilities would slow to a crawl.
know that in the third and fourth quarter of this fiscal year,
maintenance is going to be strained," he said. "That is being curtailed
very close to zero."
The budget for maintenance on facilities was
cut from $62 million to $28 million, requiring officials to defer even
critical maintenance projects, Dellinger said.
Soldier pay and allowances will be protected.
will be affected. A Department of Labor program that helps veterans
transition into the workforce would have to reduce operations, according
to a White House brief.
About a dozen people gathered at a Nashville demonstration protesting the cuts Friday, holding signs that were soggy with sleet.
Jackie Shrago worried that fewer transitional services would mean a steeper climb for her nephew, who served in Iraq.
"They're gonna have a harder time making it," Shrago said of her nephew and his family.
"The veterans did their job. They protected us, they made our country safer," she said. "Why should they lose out?"