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Defense Dept. Furloughs Hit Westover

(CHICOPEE, Mass.) (WGGB)– Defense Department furloughs began on Monday.

Civilian employees across the country are forced to take one day off a week without pay for 11 weeks.

At Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, 700 civilian employees are being furloughed.

On this day, the James Street gate to Westover is closed,”Our security forces folks are prioritizing, manning  the main gate which is the Industrial Road gate, this gate (James Street) is closed because they simply don’t have the manning because of the furlough,” says Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe.

There are more than 700 civilian employees at Westover who will be furloughed once a week through the end of September.

Of the 700, 450 are dual status Air Force Reserve technicians.

They include maintenance, personnel who load and unload the airplanes, finance , operations and public affairs personnel like Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe,”I have a mortgage, the mortgage doesn’t stop, my wife and I have to pull our resources together continuously and look at our finances in a different way unlike we’ve ever looked at them before,” says Sgt. Biscoe.

Sgt. Biscoe says for example that the furloughs will result in reduced hours of operation of the air control tower on weekends .

It’s a big operational challenge,”It impacts the military mission here, we have to look hard at all the operational aspects in what we do here and decide what we need to do to continue the main core of the mission which is flying those jets,” says Sgt. Biscoe.

The furloughs at Westover are part of a national plan to save money.

650-thousand civilian Defense Department employees across the country will be taking one furlough day a week for the next three months.