Government shutdown affecting WV National Guard preparedness - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Government shutdown affecting WV National Guard preparedness

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Training flights suspended at WV Army National Guard Training flights suspended at WV Army National Guard
CHARLESTON, WV -

The government shutdown has impacted many parts of West Virginia, including the nearly 1200 National Guard members in the state. The lack of funding is impacting more than furloughed employees; it is also lessening how prepared guardsmen are when responding to state emergencies.  

Major Fred Nicely, a company commander for the WV Army National Guard, said units aren't training as often as they should be. All training flights conducted in the state have been suspended. Officials say it's a problem because guardsmen are required to train every 60 days in order to maintain proficiency.

"If we go past the 60 days, there are a lot of requirements that we have to retrain with each one of our soldiers and that affects what we can provide to the state," said Nicely.  

Soldiers say maintenance of the aircraft is an especially big problem when it comes to responding to a disaster  

"It's like every piece of equipment. If it doesn't drive or get used, things start to break on them," said Nicely.    

Other setbacks the National Guard face include not being able to make medical ID cards for employees and canceling a motorcycle safety course.