CHICOPEE, Mass. (WGGB) — The government shutdown is impacting the military operation at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.
On Tuesday, Westover was eerily quiet as the impact of the shut down hits home.
“This morning, several hundred people were sent home until further notice without pay,” says Colonel James Bishop, Chief Public Affairs Officer at Westover.
Colonel Bishop himself is caught between a rock and a hard place. “I’m not furloughed and I’m unpaid. I’m at work, but not being paid,” he says.
A bare minimum of staff will keep the mission operating.
Colonel Bishop says furloughs are being felt all across the base. “This affects every mission – the flying operation, the maintenance operations, and the support operations at Westover Air Reserve Base,” he explains.
Colonel Bishop says he’s seen frustration, disappointment, and anger in the faces of those who were sent home.
“The furlough letters we received said up to 30 days and so it’s an unknown and how do you pay your mortgage on that, so it is impacting morale. It’s a huge impact on mission and morale,” Colonel Bishop adds.
The impact is also being felt beyond the base. “Just this morning, an elder veteran called me and said I’d like to call the honor guard and asked them to perform at a ceremony, and of course, I had to say the honor guard’s gone home,” says Col. Bishop.
The C-5′s remain at Westover. Their mission will continue, but on a limited basis.