Oklahoma National Guard impacted by shutdown

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 10/08/2013 5:22 pm Published: 10/08/2013 4:03 pm

The partial government shutdown forced the Oklahoma Air National guard to cancel two weekends of inactive duty training drills.

That means those airmen and women who would have been training don't get paid.

Spec. Russ Blevins leads a team of combat medics for the Oklahoma Army National Guard. He grew up in Tulsa and now he's a student at Oklahoma State University.

"I live on my drill pay and my GI Bill benefits every month. I mean, that's what gets me through. That's what pays my bills," he said.

Fortunately for him and plenty of other servicemen and women in college, the government is still making payments under the GI bill.

"I got mine. I was really worried at the beginning of the week when the government shut down," he said.

Last week he got a text message from a superior saying training drills were canceled.

"I've never, ever gotten a text message or a phone call that said that drill was going to be canceled. I never thought I would see that. I even texted back and said 'Is this a joke?'" he said.

It wasn't.

Now, roughly 9,700 Oklahoma National Guard members are losing an average of $200 this month.

Blevins will be alright because he has money saved.

"As a single guy, myself, you know, I can make it," he said.

He's worried about those on his team with families to support.

"It is very difficult, and it's going to be difficult until this is resolved in Washington," he said.

Even without the training, or the income it brings, Blevins said the sense of duty within the Oklahoma National Guard hasn't shut down.

"If something were to happen, any kind of a natural disaster, I mean, we're here. We're ready, and that's not gonna change," he said.

Senior officers with the Oklahoma National Guard told FOX23 they are confident these training drills will be rescheduled soon and that there will be back pay for all of those people missing this income.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

TulsaPhoto - 10/9/2013 6:53 PM
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Maybe I'm showing my ignorance, but it's the guard supposed to fall under the states control? I think this shutdown is a good thing, if for no other reason, the people will eventually get to see just how many pies the Fed has stuck their fingers into.
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