BANGOR, Maine — Dedham resident Christien Dearborn, a full-time aircraft mechanic with the 101st Air Refueling Wing who expressed frustration when he was furloughed Oct. 1, said Thursday that his frustration continues even though the government shutdown has ended.
“I don’t even know what to think or expect,” he said about the short-term federal deal to end the 16-day government shutdown by funding the government through Jan. 15. “I think this is a Band-Aid, and we are really no further ahead today than we were yesterday.”
He was one of 406 Maine Army and Air National Guard federal technicians furloughed because congressional leaders could not finalize an operating budget.
Dearborn and all but 16 furloughed workers returned to work Oct. 7, after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the Pentagon was recalling roughly 400,000 civilian employees.
Maj. Michael Steinbuchel, spokesman for both the Maine Army and Air National Guard, confirmed that all federal technician soldiers and airmen have been notified through their supervisors to return to duty. Steinbuchel said the Guard expects all members to receive back pay by the next pay period, which is Oct. 31.
Dearborn, a 13-year Guard member, said that one of the reasons he got into the Air Guard was because of the stability of the job. He said last week that he has started to worry about his job after last year’s six-day sequester and this year’s emergency furlough.
Confidence in the U.S. government has been affected by the shutdown, said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who is the lead Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“Morale has recently been at an all time low for federal workers and those that rely on federal funding,” he said. “Veterans and the men and women in uniform who fight for our country should never have to suffer as the result of dysfunction in Washington.”
Michaud said Maine Guard members, who “stand prepared to confront disasters” overseas and here at home, should not have to worry about their jobs or receiving the compensation they are owed.
“I was extremely disappointed that the bill to reopen the government is only a short-term solution, but I’m hopeful Congress will learn from what just happened and avoid a similar fiscal standoff in the future,” Michaud said. “Washington can’t repeat the irresponsible behavior of the past few weeks, and I will do everything that I can to ensure that the National Guard and others aren’t caught in the middle of another mess they did nothing to create.”
Of course, the shutdown has affected the morale of his fellow airmen and women in uniform, said Dearborn, who is married and has two young children.
“The unknown is not easy to deal with,” he said.