The impact of furloughs on Fort Detrick’s 1,350 Army civilian employees reaches beyond their wallets.

Workers such as Matthew Diggs face a forced day off without pay each week through the end of summer because of sequestration.

Diggs, of New Market, works for the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency in medical logistics. His first furlough day is scheduled for Friday.

Diggs called the furlough “a raw deal” brought on by lawmakers who will not feel the deep cuts caused by what he called Congress’ “nondecision.” With less money coming in over the summer, Diggs said he, his wife and two stepchildren will likely forgo a summer vacation and possibly put off some home repairs.

“We didn’t ask to give up our salary,” he said. “In the end, it’s not even for a good cause. There’s no winner in all this.”

That sentiment was shared by Maria Gonzalez, an accountant at USAMMA. She and her husband, who also works on the post, also face their first furlough day Friday. The couple traded in a sport utility vehicle for a smaller sedan that uses diesel, cut out cable TV and made adjustments to income tax and retirement benefit withholdings.

The couple’s nearly year-old daughter will spend a day less in day care each week for the next couple of months, but that wasn’t enough. Gonzalez tried unsuccessfully to get a discount during the furloughs.

“We’re being penalized because Congress couldn’t budget,” she said. “Now I have to change my lifestyle.”

As civilian Detrick employees brace for the immediate effects of salary cuts, workers outside the post’s gates said it is hard to forecast what the furloughs will mean to them.

Shamim Ahamad, manager at Poblano’s Grill on Rosemont Avenue, said business has been OK so far this week. With most of the restaurant’s customers coming from Detrick, he is “a little bit worried.”

The dining room at Rocky’s New York Pizza on Oppossumtown Pike was half full for lunch Wednesday. Business has slowed since the post reduced hours at a security gate near the restaurant in April due to financial concerns unrelated to sequestration, owner Ester Burr and manager Laura Jorden said. The women worry about the impact of fewer Detrick workers who also have less money to spend, they said.

The dining room overlooks a new, larger gate under construction that was scheduled to open in the fall. Construction delays now mean the gate won’t open until spring 2014.

Jorden said she plans to write a letter to a post commander about the loss of business but doesn’t yet know what it will say.

“I haven’t drafted it yet,” she said.

Employees can expect longer lines for many services on the post as furloughed employees log their unpaid absences, Detrick spokeswoman Lanessa Hill said.

Furloughs at Detrick began this week for about 990 employees at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and another 400 who work for Detrick’s garrison. They are expected to take as many as 11 days through Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2013.

Pentagon officials long warned of draconian cuts as a result of the sequester, which went into effect March 1. An estimated 652,000-member Defense Department civilian workforce is likely to feel the effects, leading to savings of up to $1.8 billion. The furloughs represent a 20 percent pay cut for those employees.

Garrison Commander Col. Steven Middlecamp allowed office supervisors to work directly with staff to identify furlough days to help minimize and cushion the blow of curtailed services, Hill said. Middlecamp took command of the garrison, which functions as Detrick’s local government, in May.

“We were hoping it wouldn’t come,” Hill said of the furloughs. “It came.”

Cuts on Detrick extend to the commissary, an Army health clinic and an identification center, as well as other offices, Hill said. Mail delivery has also been stopped, she said.

An update on Detrick’s Barquist Army Health Clinic Facebook page Monday warned that reduced staffing as a result of civilian furloughs could lead to extended wait times. Its occupational health clinic is now closed on Mondays, Hill said.

People are being told to call ahead before going to the post’s identification office, which is staffed by two employees, both of whom are subject to the furlough, she said, and the post’s commissary is now closed on Tuesday, as well as Monday.

Hill and other public affairs staff are also subject to furloughs, with employees alternating between taking off Fridays and Mondays.

“I can’t spend any money,” Hill said. “All of my community relations things have to be at no cost to the government. ... We’re going to have to become very creative here to see how we’re going to do things.”

Follow Courtney Mabeus on Twitter: @courtmabeus.

(52) comments

loner

What I think some don't realize that they maybe fuloughed for 1 day, but some are also working 2 days tele-working. So any business around Detrick will not see the flow they normally see not just due to furlough but for all those that are working from home as well. And we all know how that work from home deal goes.....[wink]

trueyankfan95

"Jorden said she plans to write a letter to a post commander about the loss of business but doesn’t yet know what it will say." - The Post Commander doesn't have the authority to speed up construction on the gate nor make customers come to your restaurant. He is busy enough without hearing your whining. Advertise and strum up new business. Does she think the Commander really cares that she is losing business because the country is in a recession and business has declined? Sure she may get a generic response, probably typed by a secretary, by he does have more important things to deal with.

beechlover

How about that 750,000 thousand dollar study to a university so they can study virtually how it feels to be a cow. No there is no waste in this administration!

watson4sherlock

$750,000 is small potatoes compared to $85 billion. Got any more cuts?

Sourdoh1

Furlough for double the days. Who cares?

Wayo44Mag

Workers get furloughs , Obama gets a 100 Million dollar vacation to Africa!!!

watson4sherlock

$100 million went to pay a lot of federal workers salary and benefits. Obama is salaried.

puddintane245

I meant to add: No winners, but sure are a lot of whiners.[wink]

puddintane245

Why the whine about losing a days pay for a while? I, and a lot of other Americans have been on a 4 day week for 4-5 years thanks to the Bush/Obama recession. Adjust to the reality.

What is really amazing is the fact that it seems most of these people interrviewed here are living paycheck to paycheck. Why were they driving massive SUVs before. I do not know what these jobs pay, but bet it is well above the medium income in the state of Maryland in most cases.

During times of plenty, all should benefit. During times of want, all should contribute. Just the way it should be. For to long government workers have been shielded from reality by the "bottomless" checkbook of government.

citygal20007

If all need to contribute, why is Congress not imposing a furlough on themselves? Wait! They are! ... it is called constant "recess." The only difference is that they get paid for all the time they're not doing their jobs.

watson4sherlock

Why don't you run for Congress since it's a cake walk and show us how it's done.

usgov

The entire world knows House Republican better not comprise or collaborate with the knee grow POUTUS if they want to keep their job. TRUTH!

Wayo44Mag

If you voted for Obama you deserve it .. if you did not you are suffering the after effects of a liberal community organizer who is not qualified to be a dog catcher (no pun intended!)!

Marylandgirl22

Congress should be furloughed for the remainder of the year considering they couldn't do their job and it resulted in the furlough of many innocent workers. If the budget wasn't fixed this year, the furlough is likely to happen again next year. It's a shame to know that our Government is more worried about throwing money to other countries yet refuses to fix their own. It's backfiring on them now, everyone affected will not only spend less and cancel things they don't 'need' (many have already done so) which will further help our economy. Thanks, Government.

president8444

Did those layed off vote for Obama, their wives did.,as 65% of femalesJust give more billions to foreign countries .Americans , who cares says Obama the big giver to foreigners.

Upton Golfer

Is it "laid off" or "Layed off"?

fredneckforever

He doesn't know. [sad]

Upton Golfer

It's our friend woody.

watson4sherlock

Your wife voted for Obama?

fishbait96

Vicdavy - You were in Nam right? Oh yeah, how could we not know that. I'm surprised you haven't posted it yet today.

vicdavy

fishy it's called credibility experience ,I am glad you remember. It is to prove a point not all Vets are brainwashed by lack of life experience and blinded by the flag.

dressthebird

Yeah, he's almost worse than a vegan....

Wayo44Mag

fish...Vicky did!![beam]

Upton Golfer

I smell fish.

Comment deleted.
Upton Golfer

You have a brain of a fish. TRUTH!

mburns

The United States Marine Corps has cut it's civilian work force and programs for the last number of years. The USMC met its Congressionally mandated funding levels and did not need to furlough any civilian employees to meet the law. Knowing this the Commandant of the Marine Corps requested that the USMC be exempt from furloughing his civilian work force. The request was denied, and he was ordered to furlough.

If you live below your means then you'll be OK, if you live paycheck-to-paycheck you're in trouble. At least now hopefully government employees won't be the public whipping post, as we're feeling the pain of the economy, and sharing in the sacrifice.

What I haven't heard is what about all the cuts to the social programs that are part of sequestration. I haven't heard one peep about them.

dressthebird

When will you resign??

mburns

birdbrain, not any time soon

dressthebird

Too bad...Thurmont could use a man for mayor.

vicdavy

The USMC is obsolete and should have been disbanded long ago. The Army,Navy and Air Force can do the job.

Wayo44Mag

I know a few Marines that would LOVE to meet you Vicky !!

watson4sherlock

Marine Corps Commandant: sequester cuts could force out more Marines
Apr. 29, 2013

See http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20130429/NEWS/304250036/Marine-Corps-Commandant-sequester-cuts-could-force-out-more-Marines

watson4sherlock

Marines are part of DOD. They made no direct plea to congress.

The next largest number of exemptions is in the Department of the Navy, which recently said it had the money to avoid furloughing any of its approximately 200,000 Navy and Marine civilians. In the end, however, Pentagon leaders granted the service only about 44,000 exemptions.

See http://www.stripes.com/news/sequestration/dod-furlough-plan-to-affect-9-in-10-civilians-1.220844

president8444

vicdavy I see you agree with Obama to layoff americans and give billions to foreign countries, your man, Americans should be first not foreigners.Again your man you enjoy Americans layed off. TRASH.UN AMERICAN as you.

vicdavy

el presidente keep posting you help my credibility with your inane comments.

dressthebird

Yeah, your credibility is just south of a TV preacher...

fredneckforever

Hey look the woodster is back!!! [beam]

Upton Golfer

He just woke up from his drunken stooper.

vicdavy

Upurs and billyboy,couldn't wait to Obama bash. Trillions wasted on fraudulent wars and tax cuts for the rich when Clinton left with a budget surplus might have something to do with it. Oh yeah Financial sector corruption that nearly destroyed our economy. no,that couldn't have anything to do with it. RIGHT!

dressthebird

You are not an economist... "The first flaw, described here and here, is that President Clinton raised taxes and the economy boomed. The flaw in the narrative is it ignores the passage of time—four years, to be exact. The timeline matters. Clinton raised taxes in 1993 just as the economy was set to take off from a recession, and instead job and wage growth sputtered for four years. The famous Clinton era boom started four years after the tax hike, in 1997, and was triggered at least in part by the Republican tax cut of that year. Four years may seem like a detail, but details like this matter.
The second flaw marring the Clinton economic story is recession. President Clinton did not leave his successor a booming economy. He left President George W. Bush a recession. The recession began in March of 2001, two months after Clinton left office. Even the most rabid leftist cannot blame George Bush for the 2001 recession. It was the Clinton recession." http://blog.heritage.org/2012/09/07/two-huge-flaws-in-the-legend-of-the-clinton-economy/

vicdavy

CREDIBILITY ALERT! heritage foundation,LMAO.

vicdavy

The biggest mistake that Clinton made was signing the Bill that overturned Glass-Steagall(sp)

dressthebird

No, some are here...http://www.ranker.com/list/bill-clinton_s-loves-and-hookups/celebrityhookups

wmpratt2010

Can you have a surplus when you're in debt? The only reason is was a surplus is they brought in more revenue that they thought they would get due to the tech bubble growing and a Republican house didn't hurt.

What I find interesting is that if you insist on calling it a "surplus" then that means tax payers were due a refund on overpayment of taxes. They spent it as fast as they found it.

watson4sherlock

I have it on good authority that republicans don't blame their predecessors for the problems of previous administrations. It's not conduct becoming of a republican.

What school of economics did you attend?

LeonardKeepers

we need people in washington that can agree and compromise on the issues instead of looking out for themselves.all of this could have been averted had our representatives in washington done what they are being paid to do,govern the country. when our senators and house of representatives come up for relection i do not see how they can blow their horns on what they have accomplished .i would give them a very poor rating if anyone did a poll on their achievements.

Upton Golfer

Thank you Obama, the greatest president in the history of the world.[wink]

fredneckforever

Likes his furlough day.

Upton Golfer

I don't have a furlough day, it's called CWS where I work 9 days at 9 hours, 1 day at 8 hours and get a day off. [ohmy]

Upton Golfer

I didn't realize that contractors get furlough days, is that true?

wmpratt2010

For starters if the Federal govt had a budget like they're suppose to this wouldn't have happened. Second everyone knew this was a possibility why did they not budget for this to begin with. And third this is done on purpose. The level of waste in govt I'm certain they can find cuts other than furloughs.

Politics through and through.

watson4sherlock

The government is eventually going to have to cut pay and benefits to get smaller. Unless you want all government workers to telecommute.

Welcome to the discussion.

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