What happens to the Utah National Guard during a government shutdown?

DRAPER, Utah (News4Utah) - Utah soldiers showed up for work Monday not knowing if they were going to get paid. That’s what happens whenever there’s a government shutdown.

Ltc. Steven Fairbourn spent the morning reviewing orders from the Department of Defense. The DOD sends out guidelines informing command which soldiers will need to be furloughed and which ones will still need to report for duty, and do so without pay.

Luckily, the senate voted to end the government shutdown Monday.

But Lt. Fairbourn still had to prepare his soldiers for the harsh reality of fighting for their country without pay.

“Soldiers don’t serve because of the pay. We want to be part of the bigger picture. But when it comes down to it, we’re like everybody else, we have to pay the bills, we have to go grocery shopping, etc.,” Fairbourn said. “Even those forward deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, etc., this affects them as well. They don’t get to magically get furloughed and come home from their deployment. They will keep serving on their deployment but they will do so without pay.”

The Ltc. told News4Utah’s Brittany Johnson that the there are 2,400 full time employees within the Utah National Guard. Of that 2,400, there are approximately 800 full time technician force personnel and 550 temporary active duty members. Fairbourn says 75 percent of employees from each of those groups usually feel the affects of a shutdown.

Fairbourn says whenever democrats and republicans can’t come to an agreement they need to remember what that means for the military.

“Without an appropriations budget, your military cannot appropriately train and fit its personnel. We have a tall order and a big mission we have to accomplish and we need all of the time available to make that happen.”

Should there ever be a disaster that causes the Utah National Guard to react on a local bases during a government shutdown, Fairbourn says they “can act, and most certainly will.”

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