Soldiers Prepared for Federal Shutdown to Interrupt Pay
If the federal government shuts down tonight at midnight, military personnel would receive partial pay after Tuesday.
Pfc. Johnnie Hoggard of Aberdeen joined the Army Reserve shortly after graduating from Aberdeen High School in 2008.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the military but I didn’t know if I wanted to be in full-time so I joined the Reserve,” said Hoggard said.
It only pays about $200 per month. But with a restaurant job that pays slightly more than minimum wage, the monthly stipend helps, he said.
“With the economy being what it is, that $200 comes in handy,” Hoggard said. “That $200 pays a bill. My pay goes to my car insurance.”
If the federal government shuts down at midnight, a Pentagon official told the Associated Press that military personnel would receive only partial-pay if the shutdown continues beyond Tuesday.
The Pentagon official also said that a shutdown would delay the $100,000 death benefit paid to the families of soldiers killed in the line of duty during the shutdown. The death benefit, however, would eventually be paid after a FY 2011 appropriations bill is passed, the Associated Press reported.
Hoggard, who works at the Panera Bread on Beards Hill Road, said he will be forced to ask for extra hours to make up for lost or delayed pay.
“I hope they figure it out soon because people only work for free for so long before they think about why they joined the military,” Hoggard said. “You still have bills in the military.”
Lt. Col. Eric Whitehurst is an Army evaluator at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
“For so many years that military paycheck has been undisturbed,” Whitehurst said. “For soldiers specifically, it’s duty as normal.”
If the government does shut down, Whitehurst said he is prepared because in his spare time he also is an independent representative for ACN, an electronics and communications firm.
“It gives you peace of mind that you’re doing something that no one can take away,” Whitehurst said. “You can’t be laid off. You can’t be fired.”
Whitehurst first joined the military as an enlisted soldier, took time off to graduate from Morehouse College in Atlanta and then re-enlisted on the commissioned officers’ track. Whitehurst plans to retire next year. But the possibility of a federal shutdown and other economic uncertainty makes the need for alternative income sources such as ACN even more evident, he said.
“It incorporates what we enjoy most out of life—working with people we like to be around, having fun while we do it, building relationships and establishing a legacy that we can pass on to our children,” Whitehurst said.