Options available to lessen furlough impact

  • Published
  • By Susan Griggs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Civilian employees across the Department of Defense are dealing with the effects of the ongoing furlough. Gross pay of virtually every government civilian has been cut by 20 percent through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. However, many deductions remain the same, so take-home pay for most civil servants is impacted at a higher percentage than that.

At Keesler, the 81st Force Support Squadron is offering whatever support it can to ease the sting of smaller paychecks for civilian employees. Some of the initiatives could help save substantial dollars, such as hardship waivers at the child development center and suspended club membership dues on request.

"We are keenly aware that our civilians are experiencing financial hardships because of the furlough pay cuts," said Col. Mark Vivians, 81st Mission Support Group commander.
"We're doing whatever we can to make this difficult period a little easier for our dedicated civilian work force."

Base leaders stress that the initiatives aren't automatic - eligible employees must ask for the assistance from the appropriate agency or office.

The airman and family readiness center is responsible for many of the programs to assist furloughed employees, with financial planning classes, one-on-one financial counseling, family life and resiliency counseling and short-term interest free loans up to $1,000 if qualified through the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund.

Some telework options are possible if supervisors and members agree that such work won't impact the mission.

There are several alternatives for affordable dining, such as the Bay Breeze Event Center's soup and salad bar and daily and weekly lunch specials. Gaudé Lanes also offers daily breakfast and lunch specials. The base exchange food court also offers low-cost food and beverage options.

The commissary hopes to offer a case lot sale in September.

For recreational opportunities, there are free fitness classes and fitness center memberships, free access to the Zinio digital magazine database at McBride Library, $5 off cart rental with 18-hole green fee this month, $5 off pizza-and-pins bowling special in August and $20 off pontoon boat rentals in September.

And to reduce transportation costs, employees can check out the van pools available through the vRide and Coast Transit Authority's Coast Commuter program. For more information, log on to www.coastcommuter.com, email ctainfo@coasttransit.com or call 228-896-8080.