13 Utah Guardsmen deployed, 181 civilian employees still furloughed

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SALT LAKE CITY -- As 13 guardsmen departed for Afghanistan, Tuesday, Brigadier Gen. Dallen Atack said the Utah National Guard’s top priority has always been and always will be taking care of soldiers and their families while they’re away.

“We’ll always look at our deployed soldiers and their families as our number one priority -- so that is not going to be affected,” Atack said. “We are going to take care of those families above all else, but it does put an extra burden on those families in those outlying armories.”

Atack testified before a legislative committee Tuesday that 181 of the Utah Guard’s 252 civilian employees have been furloughed because of the government shutdown.

While the government says it will reimburse the Utah Guard for the costs of operation and maintenance, employees who have been sent home won’t be getting paid.

“We know that we're going to have a number if families that will struggle, just like anybody would, if you went two weeks and didn't receive a paycheck,” Atack said.

Despite cuts, Atack said, the most important thing for people to know is that the national guard will continue to stand ready to serve all the needs of its citizens.

“And we’re able to continue deployments that are requested by the president and Congress,” he said. “But we still are missing, and will continue to miss, our state employees, who we rely quite a bit on.”