MacDill AFB furlough effects could be severe, says Colonel

MACDILL AFB, Fla. - Over 1,500 civilian employees at MacDill Air Force Base found themselves furloughed for the second day in a row, due to a partial government shutdown.

Col. Scott DeThomas held a rare press conference this morning to the media, outlining how severe furloughs are affecting the base.

Altogether, the base is losing about $400,000 per day in wages, and each employee furloughed, about $250 a day, he said.

The pressure for them is mounting.

"I would like to think that morale is high, but I would be lying. There's a great deal of stress across the system," said Col. DeThomas.

In addition, because of the congressional impasse, family services have been shut down, as well as other services, including the base commissary, which closed Wednesday morning.

Air Force personnel described the commissary as a ghost town, with people snatching up everything they could.

The closure of a commissary has a big impact on the people who use it.  They often receive up to 30% off what the regular public pays for groceries.

But the furloughs may not be over.

Col. DeThomas says he presides all of the base's jobs, and all jobs considered to be furloughed have been placed on a list.

"There are duties that we identify that we have missed on the first round.  The list will be reviewed on a weekly basis until we get this resolved," Col. DeThomas said.

The furloughs could also have a long-term effect.

Civilian jobs on base are dependent on security clearance, which depend on background checks, which are partially based on financial records, which could be presumably affected depending on how long an employee is furloughed.

But if there's any sort of silver lining, Col. DeThomas spoke of a few companies stepping up to offer temporary employment to those affected, including offering paycheck loans to help them cover their day-to-day bills.

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