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Government shutdown affects NASA employees

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The partial government shutdown is hitting home here in Huntsville.

Right now, many NASA employees continue to feel the effects of the shutdown stalemate that began 34 days ago.

Kathryn Crowe is a systems engineer for NASA  and she's been furloughed since December 22nd.  Crowe is a Huntsville native, an air force veteran, masters graduate and she even speaks Arabic. This accomplished woman has faced many hardships to get to where she is today.

“Coming out of high school, I had a brief period where I was nearly homeless at the time. I enlisted in the military so I could pay for college so I could have a chance to be an engineer,” Crowe said.

After serving in the military for a little more than four years, Crowe faced several health issues which caused her to be medically retired and then she was in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. The government shutdown is causing her to face yet another adversity. This time she is having to stay home instead of doing the job she loves.

“I always get a little emotional about space stuff, like the other day I watched another NASA video and I ended up getting choked up just because it’s so hard to not be able to do the thing that I love. I don’t work for a paycheck, I work because I believe in the mission.”

But working for free and meeting daily needs does not go hand in hand because not all federal workers will receive back pay for the hours they've missed. Crowe says she worries other federal employees may not want to return to their jobs after the shutdown is over.

“It’s very hard to do the math on the situation and see how it’s a stable life or a good life decision to be able to stay,” she said. “All we're asking is to be able to go back to work and to be able to serve this city, this state and this country in the best way that we can and the way we signed up to.”

Crowe created a Facebook group for federal employees that are impacted by the shutdown. She says the group has more than 1000 members and says that she added up more than 50 organizations that have offered to help furloughed employees.

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