Don’t Furlough Forest Fire Victims, Colo. Lawmaker Says

Soldiers from the 1157th Engineer Firefighter Company, Colorado National Guard, smother hot spots near Colorado Springs. Soldiers from the 1157th Engineer Firefighter Company, Colorado National Guard, smother hot spots near Colorado Springs. Colorado National Guard

A Colorado lawmaker is asking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to exempt civilians impacted by forest fires in Colorado from planned 11-day furloughs beginning in July.        

In a June 18 letter, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said that many members of the military and Colorado National Guard had “made a huge contribution to fighting the fire.” He added that help should also be directed toward civilians who were “directly impacted” by the fire in Black Forest, Colo. Lamborn cited the furlough exceptions the Air Force granted civilians hit by the recent tornados in Oklahoma.

“Black Forest and the Colorado Springs community have already shown our strength in responding to the fire,” Lamborn said. “I ask for your direct action to help avoid any unnecessary additional pain and financial hardship for Defense Department civilians who may have been affected by this fire.”

Lamborn’s letter follows that of other lawmakers who have been lobbying the Defense Department’s leadership to reduce furlough days for civilian employees, or add exceptions based on extreme circumstances. A group of Democratic senators asked Hagel in June to prevent planned furloughs for Department of Defense Education Activity teachers beginning this fall. And more than two-dozen House members implored Hagel in May to use additional flexibility to avert furloughs for civilians. 

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