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Furlough adds insult to injury for Park Police officer

Monday - 10/7/2013, 11:40pm  ET

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U.S. Park Police officer William Brancato and his wife Megan. The officer, who was seriously injured on the job last year, was given furlough papers while getting treatment in the hospital last week. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON - For one local man and his family, getting furloughed during the federal shutdown truly does add insult to injury.

Park Police officer William Brancato of Fairfax was seriously hurt on the job in January 2012, by someone trying to resist arrest.

Brancato's wife Megan, a Fairfax County Public Schools teacher, spoke with WTOP about it in a voice that quivered with emotion.

"I was a few months pregnant with our second child at the time, working full time, and also taking care of our other child, and I was called to the hospital because I needed to sign - I believe it was a DNR ("do not resuscitate" order) - because the doctors were not very sure that he was going to survive."

Officer Brancato was placed on light duty status at work, and has been in and out of the hospital several times to treat problems with his pancreas.

At times he's been placed on a feeding tube through his nose that gives him liquid nutrition while bypassing his healing pancreas.

Then, during his most recent trip to the hospital last week, he was visited by two of his supervisors.

"I was given furlough paperwork to sign in my hospital bed because I was injured," he says.

Brancato thinks that was unfair.

"My light duty status is more than understandable, I can't risk the physical nature of being a police officer on the street right now, but I do serve a very important function for the Park Police as support with investigations and administrative things. I think that, had I been treated like the other officers and just left on the job, once I'd recovered out of the hospital I would have been able to go back to work and be a productive member of the force."

Megan Brancato says the news that her husband had been furloughed was heartbreaking.

Their children are now 1 and 4 years old.

"It's just been a nightmare, and we're trying everything that we can just to keep going as a family."

On top of that, the officer's parents, who are both federal workers and had been helping out the couple during their trying time, have both been furloughed too.

A website has been set up to make donations to Officer Brancato and his family. Half of all donations will be given to Concerns of Police Survivors: COPS, a group that helps families of fallen police officers.

Click here to visit the website.

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