Vt. Guard members welcome end of government shutdown - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Guard members welcome end of government shutdown

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Staff Sgt. Jason Brace Staff Sgt. Jason Brace
Staff Sgt. Sarah Mattison Staff Sgt. Sarah Mattison
Maj. Gen. Steven Cray Maj. Gen. Steven Cray

When the federal government shut down, half the staffers at the Vermont National Guard were sent home on furlough.

"It was a lot of uncertainty at first, coming in and then being sent home," said Staff Sgt. Jason Brace of the Vermont National Guard.

For Sarah Mattison and Jason Brace, it meant their families who traditionally depended on two incomes were down to one.

"You have bills to pay and if you don't know when your check is going to come in, or if you are going to get back pay, it's definitely uncertain. It causes a little bit of stress at home," Brace said.

"With me being a technician and being furloughed it was a little stressful wondering when my next paycheck would come and whether it would be a full paycheck," said Staff Sgt. Sarah Mattison of the Vermont National Guard.

In total, about 500 Guard members were benched and their jobs on base were not getting done. That included things like fixing equipment and media relations, which is Mattison's specialty.

"I wasn't here to tell the story of the Vermont National Guard and Air National Guard or share information that we need to put out to the community," she said.

While furloughed employees returned to work after a week off-duty, training for thousands of guardsmen and women across the state was still grounded through Wednesday. Without a compromise from Congress, Maj. Gen. Steven Cray did not have the money he needed to pay for routine drills or weekend exercises.

"For a short time that's fine, for two weeks we'll be able to manage that, but if it had to be continued long term-- that was going to be hard for us to manage," Cray said.

Both Brace and Mattison were pleased to see Washington strike an agreement that will get the government and the Guard back up and running on all cylinders, and would include their back pay, but both know the short-term deal could mean more future problems.

"I am a little nervous of it happening again," Mattison said. "I am glad that they came to a resolution last evening even though it's a short one."

"It's really up to the nation's leaders to figure out what is going on and if in 90 days they need to compromise again, I hope it does not come to that, but I hope they will figure it out," Brace said.

The Guard had to cancel two of its weekend training sessions for members because of the shutdown. The major general says those are being rescheduled.

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