National Guard Returns To Work, At The Moment Without Pay

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RENO, NV - Last week the government shutdown sent Master Sergeant Jeanie Beck home from her duties at the Nevada Air Guard base at the Reno Tahoe Airport.

She's back on the job now, but returns with mixed feelings.

"Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my time at home with my son, but what do I tell my neighbors, people who depend on us being here, if we're at home when needed."

Beck works in supply. It's her job to keep the Air Guard warehouse stocked. If she's not here that job doesn't get done and that eventually effects everything the Air Guard does.

It's essential work, but like everyone else here she doesn't know when she'll be paid for it.

It may help that she's been in this situation before. She was laid off in 2010 and this year she and all other guard members have been furloughed and seen their paychecks cut 20 percent due to sequestration.

Beck's husband also works for the Guard. and they have three children at home and at the moment both paychecks have stopped.

"I don't know how we're going to pay the bills, groceries, day care for my son."

They worried this might happen so they've had to prepare.

"We've gone grocery shopping this last weekend, planned our whole month of meals. We're planning as if we're not going to see any money for the month of October in case this goes longer than anyone expected."

If it continues after that, she's not sure what they will do.

Over at the National Guard Armory on Plumb Lane, Capt. Mike Bardello has also made adjustments.

"Maybe we'll go out to dinner less. You know, find some bills that you can afford to eliminate."
Actually the call back without pay not only impacts Bardello personally, but if it continues for long, he'll be helping a lot of others deal with its impacts. A prolonged delay in pay will put a strain on a lot of families and he's the Guard's point man for personal coping skills and also its suicide prevention officer.

Time spent away from his office is worrisome, potentially even a matter of life and death for someone.

"With suicide you don't know the time and space you have, the predictability. So that one phone call could be it."

The National Guard plays an important role in our state and nation's security. As they return to work, it should be remembered they may be facing some hardships for answering that call.

None can comment on the politics of the shutdown, but the difference it's making on their lives is frustrating.

"Oh Yeah," says MSGT Beck. "To try and keep a smile on our face and keep going. It's tough."