White Sands Missile Range working through civilian furloughs
Providing resources for employees
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Civilian furloughs began Monday for the Department of Defense affecting hundreds of thousands of workers for the next three months.
At White Sands Missile Range 2500 civilian employees will be taking a mandatory day off to comply with mandated budget cuts as a part of the sequester.
"This is the reality of the budget situation and we must live within these confines," said WSMR Chief of Public Affairs Monte Marlin.
Marlin said civilian employees must be furloughed for 88 hours until the end of the fiscal year in September that will amount to a day off per week for 11 weeks.
The loss of income is 20 percent of an employees salary and will require some lifestyle changes to make ends meet.
"I actually sold my car and I bought something a little more affordable so I wouldn't have to have a car payment," said Brett Moore, a contract specialist at the range for almost four years.
Others have already had conversations with their spouses about changes in their budgets.
Yolanda Garcia, a management analyst in human resources, and her husband will both suffer 20 percent losses during the furlough period which adds to the importance of making sure bills get paid.
"He has already told me be careful with my spending," Garcia said.
She said she is normally very generous with the grandchildren but laughing said they might still go see a movie but maybe no popcorn.
While some will only experience minor inconveniences, others will find it much harder to adjust to the loss of income.
WSMR has been hosting "furlough fairs" that provide resources for employees that will help them better manage their money or provide support during the upcoming tough times.
"We have to try to come up with low cost or no cost options to try and keep morale up," said Director of Army Community Services at the range Patsy Gomez.
Some of the organized activities include Zumba class, gym activities and even board games for those that are trying to release some stress during the lunch hour.
Marlin said the leadership at the range wants to keep communication open and get a sense of how the workforce is feeling and answer any questions people might have.
But all of the work at the range will take place only during scheduled shifts with no overtime being allowed.
Range offices and departments will be prioritizing mission critical assignments and trying to accomplish as much possible with the staff available.
Some things are going to take longer and some things simply aren't going to get done," Marlin said.
The commissary will also see a change in hours of operation.
While employees have not received their first cut checks the angst is definitely there among the workforce.
"I guess I'm a little nervous to see but I think I'll be alright," Moore said.