More than 1,100 National Guard soldiers and airmen in Hawaii — and thousands in other states — will be living with 20 percent less pay over the next three months as the Defense Department carries out automatic federal budget cuts.
Guard members will be furloughed for one day a week starting Monday, so helicopter pilots and mechanics and others who keep the guard operating will have eight hours less each week to do their jobs.
It’s not clear precisely what effects the unprecedented cuts will have. They could, however, make it more difficult for the guard to fly helicopters to help put out wildfires or rush to the scene of natural disasters in trucks.
“Our general sense is that short-term, it’s going to be a terrible hardship for those soldiers, airmen and their families. But if it goes on for any length of time, that may have a negative impact on our readiness and our ability to respond,” said Hawaii National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony.
The military’s furloughs were only supposed to involve civilians, but large numbers of National Guard members who wear Army and Air Force uniforms full-time will experience them as well. The National Guard added military technicians to the furlough list in May. It’s not immediately clear how many personnel will be affected nationwide.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the furloughs, which will affect nearly 1,000 guardsmen in his state, are his biggest concern for this summer’s hurricane season.