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St. Joseph USCG still working despite government shutdown

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich.-- On the 32nd day of the government shutdown, the St. Joseph U.S. Coast Guard station are braving freezing water temperatures despite not getting paid. 

It’s been three weeks without pay for these brave men and woman, however, these coast guardsmen aren’t focused on their pockets but rather, their goal.

“I think it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and have your focus elsewhere, but the crew has been keeping a good job of keeping their eye on the mission and maintaining their eye on the station here,” said Chief Petty Officer, Grant Heffner. 

Other branches of the armed forces are paid through the Department of Defense. The U.S. Coast Guard, however, is paid through the Department of Homeland Security, which is currently caught up in the government shutdown.

“It’s extremely important for the community to know that although the shutdown is upon us, that the station is open. The station is ready to respond, and the crews are ready 24 hours a day," said Heffner.

If someone were to fall into any of the regional frozen bodies of water, officers advise to remember the 1-10-1 rule. You only have one minute to get your breathing under control, 10 minutes for movement, and an hour of consciousness.

“When you’re pulling someone out of the water, stuck in an ice shelf somewhere, you’re thinking they’re in the worst possible position they could possibly be in right now and you try to do everything you can," said U.S Coast Guardsman, Austin Ballard. 

Doing everything they can despite not knowing when it will be the next time they will be compensated for it is what they knowingly signed up for.

“Being called a hero is always one of those feelings that is humbling. No one here signed up to be a hero. Everyone signed up for selfless service. Although I wear the uniform at work, that sense of pride and sense of service is ingrained in me. I’m very proud to be in the Coast Guard. I’m very proud to be here in St. Joseph," said Heffner. 

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