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Civilian workers return to Columbus Air Force Base

Reported by: Tyler Hill
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Updated: 10/07/2013 7:22 pm
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) - The nation is days into the federal government shutdown, while Democrats and Republicans continue sparring over policy.

On Monday, however, there was some good news for civilian employees at the Columbus Air Force Base.

Somewhere between the bickering and the blame game, Congress passed a law last week that allowed furloughed defense civilian workers back to their jobs.

On Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced most of the department's 400,000 civilian workers could return to work.

For Columbus Air Force Base, it means a significant return of 230 employees.

"We definitely felt that impact," said 2nd Lt. Joshua Benedetti. "They bring a valuable amount of experience and continuity. We definitely missed them."

He said without the help of those furloughed employees, there were some obstacles.

"The impact was felt," Benedetti said. "There was a shortfall, but at the end of the day, we continued on with the mission."

The approved legislation also guaranteed back pay to all federal workers affected by the shutdown.

"We've seen a lot of smiling faces coming back to work," Benedetti said.

Not only were the civilian employees able to return to base, but the commissary will open, which officials said is a benefit for the airmen on base and retirees in the local community.

"It's a huge morale boost for the entire base," Benedetti said. "We can now shop and buy groceries on base."

He said having the employees back does return a sense of normalcy to the base.

"It's kinda like resuming business as usual," Benedetti said. "We're still on a government shutdown. The government hasn't lifted that yet, but they're back at work. We're continuing the mission."

Columbus Air Force Base Sgt. Bubba Franks said all of their civilian employees were able to return on Monday.

Some bases across the country, however, only received some of their workforce back.
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