July 26, 2013

It was with great emotion that I read the July 17 op-ed “Our leaders’ core values, revealed by sequestration,” by Mike Penland, a retired Air Force officer who is now a civilian employee at the Pentagon, in which he discussed his feeling of disappointment with the country’s leadership at being furloughed.

The piece has gone viral at Scott Air Force Base in southern Illinois. Though few of us can express it so eloquently, the feelings of betrayal he described are shared by all. Many of us have sacrificed much to pursue our chosen careers, only to be reminded in the end, as Mr. Penland wrote, that we are nothing more than employees.

Every American should be enraged by this failure, for we are truly at risk because of it. As an intelligence analyst, I now have one less day a week to focus on the issues that come across my desk. On any given day, there are 20 percent fewer people in my office to help me. I have never seen a more discouraged workforce. Talented people will leave government service because of this. And many of us are worried and distracted by our sudden loss of income.

Our elected leaders could have avoided this crisis and didn’t, but perhaps they can still resolve it before the damage is irreparable.

Kirk Pedersen, St. Louis