By Rachel Lake (RLake@wsbt.com)
4:20 AM EST, March 3, 2013
Saturday marked the first full day of the sequester.
The drastic federal budget slashing plan resulting in $85 billion in across-the-board cuts are coming and they will arrive first at school systems near military bases and on Native American reservations, places where federal funds make up 40-50% of yearly budgets.
Also likely are furloughs for tens of thousands of federal workers starting in April.
"These cuts are not smart. They'll hurt our economy and cost us jobs, and Congress can turn them off at any time as soon as both sides are willing to compromise," said President Obama.
Just one of the groups locally that is watching the impact of the sequester very carefully is veterans. Christine Frauendorfer is all smiles at a fundraiser at the DAV in Elkhart, but behind that smile is worry. "I don't wanna be when I'm sixty going to the mailbox to find a letter saying that you have no more pension because it got cut," said Frauendorfer.
Frauendorfer spent 25 years in the Army and National Guard. She'll be eligible for a military pension at the age of 60. But with major budget cuts looming, Frauendorfer wonders if her pension will be there. "That's just money that I won't be able to have or to spend when I'm older, and then I would probably have to find a job to supplement that."
While the Department of Veterans Affairs is exempt from sequestration, programs designed to help vets transition back to civilian life and find work will experience cutbacks.
"I'm worried anytime I hear there's going to be cuts in the Department of Defense," said Ron Lundy, the Veteran Services Officer in Elkhart County. "I have no idea of knowing in the future if there may be cuts, but we were fortunate this time and I'm hoping that there is no next time."
Frauendorfer is also hopeful, hopeful that her pension will be safe and that veterans, young and old, will be taken care of despite the turmoil in Washington, D.C. "The president, vice president, Congress cut their own paychecks first and not cut the paychecks or help the people who really really need it," she said.
By the way, paychecks of lawmakers in Congress will not be cut under sequestration. Homelessness programs will be affected and with so many veterans on the streets, they could be among those forced out of housing and emergency shelter programs.
Copyright © 2013, WSBT-TV