Hagel stresses workforce’s value Published Oct. 18, 2013 By American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a message to the Defense Department's workforce Thursday, welcoming back employees furloughed by the 16-day government shutdown and emphasizing their value to the nation. Here is the text of the secretary's message: Today (Thursday) the Department of Defense is resuming normal operations across the world, now that Congress has finally restored funding for DOD and the rest of the federal government. This manufactured crisis was an unwelcome and unnecessary distraction from our critical work of keeping the country safe. I know that each of your lives has been disrupted and affected in different ways. I regret the impact that this shutdown had on so many of our civilian personnel, particularly those who I was previously unable to recall from emergency furlough. Starting today (Thursday), we will be welcoming all of our civilians back to their normal duties. To those returning from furlough, know that the work you perform is incredibly valued by your military teammates and by me. I appreciate your professionalism and your patience during this difficult period of time, which came on top of last summer's sequestration-related furloughs. Your managers will have more information about this, but I can assure you that you will be paid in full for the time you were furloughed during the shutdown. Now that this latest budget crisis has come to an end, we have an opportunity to return to focusing on the critical work of this department. Unfortunately, Congress did not end the budget uncertainty that has cast such a shadow of uncertainty over this department for much of the year. In the months ahead, they will have an opportunity to do so. My hope is that they will realize that these kinds of crises do great damage to our people, our national security, our economy, and America's standing in the world. Congress has a responsibility to govern, and it must fulfill those basic responsibilities in order to keep our country strong.