Indiana National Guard families concerned about March 1st spending cuts

Jennifer Detlefsen is proud of her husband's dedication to family and country.
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Congress has one week to reach an agreement to stop $85 billion in automatic spending cuts. If those cuts go into effect March 1st, Indiana will feel a $100 million to $200 million impact in military spending.

About 1,000 Indiana National Guardsmen and their families will feel the hit the hardest.

Jennifer Detlefsen is proud of her husband's dedication to family and country. He's gone through two deployments with the Indiana National Guard and works as a military technician at headquarters at Stout Field.

But now, the Detlefsens and their two young girls are trying to wrap their minds around a major blow to the family's budget: potentially 22 days without pay because of an impasse in Washington, DC.

"There's been no warning, no planning so in three weeks all of a sudden you have to, you know, adjust your life," Jennifer Detlefsen said.

Jennifer's husband is just one of many military technicians in Indiana facing possible furloughs if automatic federal spending cuts take effect March 1st.

Furloughs would start in April and last through September.

"Basically, almost like a layoff but only for one day a week. So it's essentially a 20% reduction in their take-home pay and in their overall pay," explained Indiana National Guard Public Affairs Officer, Lt. Col. Cathy Van Bree.

The furloughs would affect about 1,000 Indiana National Guardsmen across the state and could take a serious chunk out of their family's budget.

"A lot of the extras are going to go by the wayside - swim lessons, you know, preschool even possibly, our trip out to Pennsylvania to see Grandma this summer," Detlefsen said.

The potential cuts would save the government about $7 million dollars in Indiana alone.

But they'd impact Guardsmen who repair weapons, fix vehicles and maintain essential electronics for those who deploy in the field.

That affects not only salaries, but also training and needed service.

"There will be a limitation on repair parts, on the availability of their repair parts and of course when we're taking 20% away of our maintainers, both ground and air, aviation maintainers, that will essentially create a backlog," Van Bree said.

The National Guard stresses they're still prepared for emergencies.

But the potential loss in pay has created a financial emergency for many families, with worried moms and dads now wondering how they'll get through.

"The best thing, you know, would be a miracle occurs and they (lawmakers) just fix everything," Detlefsen said.

The looming cuts will not impact U.S. Army Reserves or National Guard service members who come in for drills.

But unless Congress postpones the reductions or comes up with another spending plan, those 1,000 Guardsmen will start losing work and pay every Friday.

Republicans and Democrats remain in a stalemate over how to avoid the March first spending cuts.

If the automatic spending cuts go into effect, you also will likely see longer lines at airport security or closed gates at national parks.

The cuts will also impact educational programs for low-income families and long-term unemployment benefits.