Government shutdown: A soldier's story of lost pay and canceled training drills

George Zepeda serves in the Army Reserves, has been deployed to Iraq and is now a full-time student at Los Angeles Valley College. Photo courtesy George Zepeda
George Zepeda serves in the Army Reserves, has been deployed to Iraq and is now a full-time student at Los Angeles Valley College. Photo courtesy George Zepeda

Units of the National Guard and Army Reserve will be missing their training drills in West Los Angeles this weekend because of the federal government shutdown.

Army Reserve specialist George Zepeda just received notice that his monthly drill scheduled for this weekend has been, well, shut down.  He’ll not only miss the chance to keep his soldiering skills up, but also lose out on about $300 in pay.

"Yeah, that’s my car payment right there. Goodbye," Zepeda told KPCC. 

At 23 years old, George Zepeda has already been deployed once to Iraq. He lives in North Hollywood and is now a full-time student at Los Angeles Valley College, on the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

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He says the roughly $2,000 monthly payment from the Department of  Veterans Affairs to support his studies usually comes on the first of the month.  But the payment due a few days ago still hasn’t come.  For now, Zepeda says he’s calm.

"If it goes longer than a week or two, then I’ll start getting concerned," Zepeda says of the  government shutdown.  "Because it’s rare for me to ever miss a payment on time and stuff like that so I don’t want that to affect my credit in any way."

In a messsage to Zepeda and other reservists, Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley writes "how troubling it is to me to have to delay your Battle Training Assemblies until further notice."   

He adds: "Until funding is restored, our active duty military members will provide the minimum staffing to sustain our Army Reserve."

Before the shutdown, the V. A. was already working through a backlog of benefits requests. Now it appears the shutdown is likely to make it worse.  

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