National Guard members return to work

Return may not last for long

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Nearly 1,000 employees for the Florida National Guard were called back to work Monday, but it could be short-lived.

The guard is facing another shutdown mid-month if money and the federal government shutdown isn't resolved.

Guard members say they're happy to be back at work after a week of furloughs, but that's about it. They can't train, gear up or buy supplies. And it could affect national security in the long run.

"It's been an emotional few days for everybody, especially my family," Sgt. Tom Kielbasa said. "We were watching the news to see if they were going to back pay us or bring us back, and watching the news to see what was going to happen, and it's been a relief when I did get the call."

"Even though we are able to pay our employees, most of our employees, we still have significant problems," Major Gen. Emmett Titshaw said.

The adjutant general of the Florida National Guard said unless Congress ends its stalemate, on Oct. 22 the state guard will be out of money, and those brought back will be sent back home, even those who were at work Monday. There isn't much they can do.

"We have no money to do operations and maintenance," Titshaw said. "We can't buy fuel, we can't buy parts, and so we are very limited in our training."

The major general said in the long run that affects Florida and the rest of the country because they can't prepare.

"The ability to protect this nation is being impacted every single day in a negative way," Titshaw said.

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