Dozens Protest Shutdown in Temple

(KCEN) – On Friday dozens of federal employees hit the street in front of Temple's VA Hospital to protest against the government shutdown.

Many of the men and women holding signs and chanting "No more furloughs, no more shutdown" and "clean up the mess" were those civilian Fort Hood employees who were sent home on Tuesday. Many have no idea when they'll be able to return to work.

"It was unbelievable, and quite devastating," Fort Hood maintenance mechanic Harrison Riggins said. "That's twice now. I have a family to support."

Harrison was hit by the first round of furloughs during the sequester over the summer, and was just getting back on his feet when the shutdown knocked him back down. "It's just nonsense that the people we elect to run our country can't come together to do their job," he said.

Harrison picketed alongside Temple VA Hospital employees. Approximately 2,500 employees work at the hospital, and while Veteran care has not been suspended it's uncertain if the employees providing those services like the nurses and doctors will get paid.

"I don't know if I'll get paid, but I'm not going to stop taking care of my veterans," physician assistant Kenneth Henson said. "Our veterans are taken care of because the VA is funded two years in advance, but those caring for the veterans might not get a paycheck next Friday."

Until congress can come to a compromise and pass a budget, many like Harrison and Kenneth are left with heavy minds of a weary future.


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