Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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October 2, 2013

Grissom hit hard

About 600 furloughed from air reserve base after government shutdown

They had until 11:30 a.m. to pack up and clear out at Grissom Air Reserve Base.

About 600 employees, some Air Force reservists, some civilians, were furloughed Tuesday as the federal government shut down.

Lt. Col. Gary Lockard, the base’s public affairs officer, said air traffic at the base would be unaffected by the shutdown, as air traffic controllers and other personnel deemed “essential” will remain at work.

The base’s active duty military contingent, which according to Lockard is a small minority of the base’s uniformed personnel, will remain at work.

“This has an impact on the local community,” Lockard said. “It’s all folks who live in the local area and it’s a big chunk to take out of the local economy.”

It’s unclear how much air traffic will remain at the base during the shutdown, as many of the reservists affected are part of the crews flying KC-135 tanker planes with the 434th Air Refueling Wing stationed at the base.

Many of those reservists are full-time, Lockard said, performing duties such as pilot and maintenance technician.

Part of the difficulty of a government shutdown is getting information, as many of the employees affected normally handle information requests.

At Grissom, Lockard said, everyone was told to be done for the day and off the base by 11:30 a.m. The public affairs office was included in that group, he added.

In Kokomo, the Social Security Administration office was open, albeit on a limited basis. Office administrators pointed media requests to the socialsecurity.gov website, where a list could be found of services which will and won’t be available during the shutdown.

Ironically, the administrators of many government websites Tuesday — including Grissom’s — announced they wouldn’t be updated during the shutdown.

Anyone needing a new or a replacement Social Security card or a replacement Medicare card during the shutdown will be out of luck, but the office will still process new applications for benefits, according to the website.

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