Employees at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda went back to work Monday, despite the lingering federal government shutdown.
The Department of Defense, under the direction of Secretary Chuck Hagel, eliminated furloughs for employees whose responsibilities contribute to the morale, well-being, capabilities and readiness of service members, based on a legal interpretation of the Pay Our Military Act, Hagel said in a statement Saturday.
However, the law does not allow for a blanket recall of all Defense Department employees, Hagel said in the statement.
Walter Reed ordered all general schedule employees back to work Monday at their regularly scheduled times, according to the hospital.
Still, thousands of federal workers remain out of work, as do federal contractors.
Bethesda defense giant Lockheed Martin, one of Montgomery County’s largest employers, started furloughing about 2,400 employees companywide on Monday because of the political standoff.
The number of sidelined employees was 600 fewer than what Lockheed officials thought on Friday.
After Hagel said Saturday that most of the roughly 400,000 civilian employees in that department had been deemed essential for national security, Lockheed officials decided to reduce the number of furloughs.
Most of those affected work in civilian programs in the Washington region, said Gordon Johndroe, a Lockheed spokesman.
Since the first day of the shutdown on Oct. 1, Maryland has had 16,078 requests for federal unemployment benefits, Maureen O’Connor, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said Monday.
Typically, the state sees about 2,500 to 3,500 applications a year from federal workers, but on the first day of the shutdown alone, it received nearly 4,000 applications, she said.
Defense employees might be headed back to work, but the Navy Band is not performing.
The band canceled its birthday concert scheduled for Wednesday at the Music Hall at Strathmore in North Bethesda because of the ongoing shutdown.
A celebration of the Navy’s 238 years, the concert was intended to highlight Navy and national heritage, pay tribute to officers from the space program and honor injured military personnel and their caregivers. Four Navy Band ensembles were to perform.
In honor of the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address, quotes by Abraham Lincoln highlighting freedom and liberty were to be displayed on a video screen throughout the concert.
While the Pay Our Military Act allows the Defense Department to recall employees, public outreach events such as band concerts remain shut down, said Adam Grimm, a Navy Band spokesman. However, the band still is playing at ceremonies and funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, he said.
The band does not plan to reschedule the birthday concert, he said.
Wednesday’s performance is the second the Navy Band has scrubbed since the shutdown started. Grimm said it canceled a jazz performance by the Navy Band Commodores on Friday at Howard Community College in Columbia.
With other performances scheduled — including one Saturday in Washington and four next week — Grimm said it is unclear how many other concerts might be canceled if the shutdown continues.
“Between the sequestration and then this, it’s just been taking things a week at a time,” he said, referring to automatic federal budget cuts this year.
Staff Writer Kevin James Shay contributed to this report.