Hoosiers hit by government shutdown

Capt. Kathryn Elkins was called in from maternity leave to close up her desk.
Published: .
Updated: .

The federal government shutdown is putting hundreds - and perhaps thousands - of Hoosiers out of work. Taxpayers looking for government help are finding closed doors.

In the midst of cleaning up her modest workspace, proud new mom Army Capt. Kathryn Elkins introduced her seven-week-old daughter.

"This is Bradee," she announced.

Big sister Gracie, just two-and-a-half, played nearby as their mother closed up her desk.

"It is so frustrating," she said.

Elkins was called into work, from maternity leave, to be officially furloughed. She's one of a thousand Indiana Army and Air National Guardsmen out of work because of the federal shutdown.

"It is very frustrating," she explained, "because you have such a small body of people making a decision for huge body."

Dozens of government employees and taxpayers left the downtown Indianapolis Federal Building plenty perturbed.

"Used my lunch hour to come down here for naught. It's a pain in the butt," Rich Norris said, walking away.

The Internal Revenue Service office is closed, although the IRS is still collecting taxes and processing payments.

The Veteran's Administration is working and the Social Security office offers limited services, though those services didn't include the replacement Social Security card John Elliot needed.

"They can't do anything because of the shutdown," he said, making no attempt to hide his frustration. "Ridiculous!"

The federal courts are open. But there aren't as many prosecutors to pursue federal cases. Indiana's U.S. district attorney had to furlough half of the attorneys and support staff.

Like Capt. Elkins they are without a job and a paycheck. Her husband is working on a college degree. They have some savings, but don't know how they will balance the family budget with zero income.

A soldier sworn to defend the nation, Elkins and others didn't count on becoming a casualty of a congressional conflict.

"It is a little irritating," she explained, "that we are here fighting for freedom and then we just get cut."

Furloughed workers hope for a quick compromise. The U.S. Postal Service is unaffected by the government shutdown. While congress debates a funding bill, the household bills will keep on coming.