CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 900 West Virginia Air and Army National Guard technicians will be furloughed in the coming months because of automatic federal budget cuts.
The technicians maintain the Guard's equipment and vehicles, and are classified as civilian employees. They're among more than 600,000 U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees who will be furloughed 11 days each.
The furloughs will affect 186 workers with the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston; 384 with the 67th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg; and 376 Army National Guard members at locations across the state. Furloughs in West Virginia also include 1,005 U.S. Army employees, 578 Air Force employees, 26 Navy employees and 83 other Department of Defense employees, the Charleston Daily Mail reported.
"It is one of the most frustrating things I have dealt with in my 32 years in the National Guard," West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General James Hoyer told the newspaper.
If there is a natural disaster, the Guard's ability to respond could be affected by the furloughs, he said.
"It's clearly going to have an impact on our readiness," Hoyer said.
Overall, the furloughs, announced in May, are expected to save the Defense Department about $1.8 billion. They are to begin in July.
Hoyer said those men and women represent the "less than 1 percent of the population of the United States who are willing to wear a military uniform."
"And our way of repaying them is laying them off for 11 days. ... That's a sad commentary on where we are right now."
Hoyer said the affected employees will lose a large portion of their pay because of the furloughs. To assist them, the Guard is working with Workforce West Virginia.