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It has been widely reported that the United States Military academies have been forced to shut down their sporting programs until the federal government passes a continuing resolution. If this was the only impact that the academies were going to feel, although disappointing for the midshipman, cadets and alumni, everyone would find a way to deal with no military football games on Saturday.
The reality is that the government shutdown could affect the academies in far more serious ways.
There are thousands of civilian employees who go to work every day on the military academy bases. Starting on Tuesday, October 1, 2013, with the federal government shutdown these employees have all been furloughed. Their jobs range from highly complex to repetitive and mundane, but they are all vital to the intricate running of the service academies.
The United States Naval Academy at Annapolis has always employed a large number of civilian professors. Their almost 300 civilian professors actually slightly outnumber the military teachers on staff. According to the Naval Academy’s facebook page, classes in Arabic and Chinese as well as labs in Physics, Chemistry and Engineering have been cancelled.
A parent of a second year midshipman said, “These kids have found themselves in the middle of this shutdown. The civilian teachers teach most of the higher level classes and now they are gone. The military instructors are trying to take over but there are no enough of them and it isn’t their area.
It’s not good.” The parent went on to say that the midshipmen have been notified that if the shutdown continues for much longer, the academy will shut down completely and send the students home.
For some students, an unscheduled trip “home” would be an undue hardship. Every year there are on average 15 international cadets and 30 veterans in any given class at West Point. For those prior service veterans, there is no home to return to.