Lightspring/Shutterstock.com

From Maine to Colorado, Shutdown Puts Federal Employees' Lives on Hold

Effects reach far beyond the Beltway.

The government shutdown that is now in its second week is affecting hundreds of thousands of federal employees around the country. While the work stoppage continues, National Journal Daily is asking some of those public servants to share stories of what they and all Americans are missing without their government at full strength.

Flying Low

The Air Force Academy Cadet Field House—a massive structure that houses an indoor playing field and a 2,470-seat ice-hockey rink—is usually abuzz with activity.

But that was before the shutdown, and with it, the suspension of intercollegiate sports at the glittering service academy perched in the foothills north of Colorado Springs, Colo.

“It’s completely disruptive—as you can imagine—to have 1,000 people you rely on to stay at home,” said Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, at a press conference last Thursday on the main quad. “We take it very seriously, because we’re here building a future, building lieutenants who are competent and confident and capable to go out and lead.”

At that time, Johnson had sent home about 1,000 of the academy’s 1,500 civilian workers and suspended 60 of the institution’s 300 courses. Since then, she has reversed course and recalled nearly all of them.

One of the more comical effects—and the one that garnered the most media attention—was a lack of toilet paper in some campus dormitories. “We’re not always aware at a really high level of who has the contract for the toilet paper,” Johnson said. “But we found out pretty fast, and we fixed it, because that’s tremendously [important].”

Other adjustments include bringing in non-academy military personnel to patrol the perimeter of the facility and canceling cadets’ training flights.

Yet, it is the suspension of intercollegiate sports that has taken the biggest toll on morale. Last Saturday, the Air Force Falcons football squad played the Navy Midshipmen in Annapolis, Md.—the Falcons lost 28-10—but the game was possible only because the United Services Automobile Association paid the Falcons’ travel expenses.

“The reason … this particular game is possible, when other activities have been canceled, is that a very generous private donor has provided the funds for the travel and lodging of just the football team, just the bare bones,” Johnson said last week. “It’s only the team. I’m not going, the cheerleaders aren’t going.”

There is no word yet on whether the Falcons will host the San Diego State Aztecs this Thursday, as planned.

Christopher Snow Hopkins

Stuck in Limbo

Rosa Van Wie, 23, has $87 in cash and $2 in her bank account.

“I lived with my parents this summer and saved up enough to cover two months’ rent,” she said. “That, and my grandma gave me $100.”

She’s balancing car payments and $20,000 in student-loan payments by selling painted seashells at a market near her hometown in Maine.

“I made $15,” she said. “But, yeah, feeding myself is tricky.”

When she got a job offer to work at a preschool for autistic kids, she was ecstatic. But the next day, the government shut down.

“Right now, they don’t have enough staff,” Van Wie said. “I probably would have started this week.”

She can’t start until the federal government reopens and completes her background check. She’s been without a job since mid-August, when she wrapped up a stint at a summer camp. Van Wie says she loves her two senators from Maine but is frustrated with Congress -- especially tea-party Republicans -- for acting like “little children.”

“I never really thought they would do this,” Van Wie said.

Meanwhile, the preschool is working on a state background check, contacting places where Van Wie previously worked. She’s filling out more paperwork, and hopes she might be able to start next week.

“It’d be really nice to get a paycheck soon.”

Clara Ritger

Mountain Retreat

Like thousands of government workers, Lisa Jenkins is facing some unexpected time off because of the shutdown, but she isn’t letting it go to waste. She and her husband, Scott, are restoring a historic home in Front Royal, Va., that they plan to convert into a bed-and-breakfast.

“It needed a lot of work. It was kind of a stretch for us in terms of buying and fixing it up,” said Jenkins, who works in IT for the Environmental Protection Agency. But a long shutdown could put some of that work on hold. “We’re really relying on our continued income,” she said.

Jenkins, 54, who has been at EPA for 23 years and experienced the shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, doesn’t believe the current work stoppage is necessary. “There’s just no precedent for tying the budget to anything else,” she said.

She used the time off during the ’90s to complete an adoption, but Jenkins says she’s heard from older federal employees “that they are less likely now to wholeheartedly encourage younger people to enter the federal services.”

Jordain Carney

(Image via Lightspring/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.