Fort Riley civilians return to duty
A majority of Fort Riley civilian employees returned to duty Oct. 7, following an Oct. 5 announcement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recalling most of the Department of Defense civilians who were placed on emergency furlough as a result of the federal government shutdown that began Oct. 1.
"Fort Riley is very pleased with the news from the secretary of defense. It is the right thing to do – to bring back our civilian workers who are a part of Team Riley and who serve our Soldiers, veterans, retirees and their Family members daily," said Garrison Commander Col. Andrew Cole.
The announcement comes after a DoD review of the Pay Our Military Act.
"Immediately after President (Barack) Obama signed the Pay Our Military Act into law (Sept. 30), I directed DoD's acting general counsel to determine whether we could reduce the number of civilian personnel furloughed due to the shutdown," Hagel said in an Oct. 5 DoD press release.
In consultation with the Department of Justice, it was determined the law does permit the return of some civilians, although it does not necessarily permit for the blanket return of all civilians.
"However, DoD and DoJ attorneys concluded that the law does allow the (DoD) to eliminate furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members," Hagel said in the release.
Fort Riley employees in offices across the installation who have direct contact with Soldiers and Soldier services were among those to return Oct. 7. The Fort Riley Commissary also resumed regular business hours Oct. 7. A few services remain affected by the emergency furloughs.
• Fort Riley Museums, including the Cavalry Museum, 1st Infantry Division Museum and Custer House, will be closed to the public. They will open for Soldier training only.
• The Leisure Travel Center will operate under reduced hours: hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
• Eyster Pool will operate under reduced hours: for lap swim: 6:30 to 9 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday; for open swim: 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; closed weekends and Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
• Some community support activities have ceased.
"The professionalism our civilian employees – those excepted and those furloughed – have shown despite personal hardships during this shutdown is admirable," Cole said. "They have been on point for Fort Riley and the nation. Each member of Team Riley is crucial in ensuring our continued success.
"Most importantly, we appreciate the patience and understanding of our visitors and customers as we continue to navigate through the federal government shutdown."
The defense secretary said in the news release the department has tried to "exempt as many DoD civilian personnel as possible" from emergency furloughs, and will continue to try to bring all civilian employees back to work as soon as possible.