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Town Hall addresses Government shutdown concerns

Oregon Air National Guard Col. Richard Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing Commander, address Airmen of the 142nd Fighter Wing at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., Oct. 8, 2013, during a Town Hall meeting to discuss the current conditions of the unit and members as a result of the U.S. Government shutdown.  (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

Oregon Air National Guard Col. Richard Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing Commander, address Airmen of the 142nd Fighter Wing at the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., Oct. 8, 2013, during a Town Hall meeting to discuss the current conditions of the unit and members as a result of the U.S. Government shutdown. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs/Released)

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. -- Oregon Air National Guard Col. Richard W. Wedan, 142nd Fighter Wing Commander, spoke before two groups of Airmen yesterday as he addressed the ramifications of the current U.S. Government shutdown currently impacting the employment for Air National Guard members.

"I want to take this opportunity to talk about and address some of the concerns that I know we are facing in this current situation with our mission and work," said Wedan.

Going over the Pay Our Military Act (POMA) recently passed by the U.S. Congress, Col. Wedan outlined what is covered and not authorized in the legislation.

"POMA allows us to bring back our people and pay them but it does not allow us to buy 'the stuff' like parts, fuel and other materials until the government re-opens."

Working on those issues, Wedan talked about how he has been, "On the phone and emailing our state (of Oregon) officials, NGB (National Guard Bureau), other Air Guard Wing Commanders to find a way forward."

With many of the questions about paychecks, Oregon Air National Guard Col. Robert Gregory from the Oregon Military Department Human Resources department was also in attendance.

"POMA is paying forward at this point," said Gregory.

The state has not been able to hire new members that were slated to begin working once the new fiscal year began.

"Once the budget is settled we will be able to bring those people on and we remain hopeful to do this soon," he said.

Col. Wedan took many questions from the Airmen that included inquires about TRI CARE, military schools, deployments, mission readiness and other day to day issues.

"You know me, I am one of those 'Glass Half Full' guys and I want everyone to know that your leadership is doing whatever we can to keep all our members working and find the resources you need during all of this," he said.

Until the budget impasse is resolved the National Guard cannot conduct the monthly unit training assembly (UTA) nor process Active Duty or other types of military orders.

The October UTA that was scheduled for the past weekend will be considered a 'Flex Drill.'
"Group Commanders will make the decision whether to make up or reschedule the October drill," said Wedan.

Wedan emphasized that the resources available to members such as; food and fuel cards, and assistance from the Oregon State Relief Fund.

"We are here to help so don't hesitate to call our family programs director Mary Bell or anyone else," he said.

"This is crushing, but we are a family and we will make it through this low and be back experiencing the highs once again," said Wedan.


Questions and Resources:

Defense Finance and Accounting Service
Oregon National Guard Service Members and Family Support
U.S. Department of Defense