The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

March 9, 2013

Businesses in military towns brace for budget hit

(Continued)

Nohelty said she is waiting to hear from the leaders at Fort Campbell about the effect on childcare, sports programs and counselors that help soldiers after they return from deployment.

"Are we going to get to keep all those programs?" she questioned. "Are they going to have as many counselors?"

Link Melley is the co-owner of Norfolk, Va.-based Freedom Furniture and Electronics, which operates 15 stores in military markets, including outside Fort Campbell. In business for 30 years, Melley said military customers account for 90 percent of the company's business. Many of his 220 employees are military spouses and veterans.

He said the anticipation of these budget cuts has led to a downturn in sales for more than a year. He worries he may have to reduce his staff.

"Typically when there is a deployment, the stress and anxiety is just at one base," he said. "This has been across the board, every service, every base in the country. ... I have never ever seen the anxiety level this high."

Beyond the immediate cuts, Melley said the uncertainty surrounding the constant political wrangling in Washington makes it hard to plan for the future.

"Frankly, we didn't expect sequestration to take place," Melley said. "The service members and their families have become the pawn, and Congress and the president need to get this figured out."

___

Hall reported from Oak Grove, Ky. Associated Press writers Angela K. Brown in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Jay Reeves in Montgomery, Ala., contributed to this report.

 

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