Of the more than 800,000 U.S. government employees currently unpaid during the partial government shutdown, some are couples and others are parents. In the case of the 35,000 people working in the American federal prison system, there are many families affected.
The facilities are often located in rural areas and, as a result, have become significant employers in their communities.
At the federal prison in Hazelton, West Virginia—also known as “Misery Mountain”—more than 36 employees are married couples, according to the employee union.
CGTN America’s Jessica Stone went to West Virginia to meet the Ware family.
Kase Ware has Pallister-Killian Mosaic Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder requiring anti-seizure medication and as many as seven therapies each week. Kase receives government assistance for his medical bills. His parents don’t know how long the programs will last during the shutdown. Mom, Melinda, repeats his therapy movements with him at home. “I don’t know how long we’ll be able to afford to keep taking him every week,” says Melinda, “It’s just tough.”
Roger Ware works full-time, unpaid, at USP Hazelton. On his days off, he renovates homes for gas money. Transportation to Kase’s therapies is one hour round trip. He and wife, Melinda, both drive two hours round trip to their jobs at the prison. “I’m very fortunate I can find work,” says Roger. “Some people, it’s all they’ve done – is work for the government.”
Since the shutdown began more than a month ago, five-year-old Cash Ware no longer attends wrestling practice or tournaments. The family has no extra money for participation fees and transportation. Cash is clear on who’s to blame: “Donald Trunk (sic) needs to pay my mommy and daddy,” he says.
Eighteen-year-old Garrett Ware is attending Alderson Broaddus University on a full football scholarship. He has picked up extra work on the weekends refereeing wrestling to pay for gas and books. But his parents’ loss of income during the shutdown, hasn’t persuaded him not to dream of working for the federal government himself one day. “Dad and Melinda, they think I’m crazy for saying that,” he says, but I’m “hoping that I can make a difference…”
Austin and Donovan Ware are in high school. So far, they haven’t had to cut back on after-school activities because they don’t play winter sports. But both pitch in with chores around the house and help babysit their younger brothers to save on daycare costs for the family.