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NH Guard Airman answers the call on unemployment hotline

Staff Sgt. Natalie Howes of the 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron, New Hampshire Air National Guard, helping answer calls about unemployment benefits with Task Force Call Center at the Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke, New Hampshire, May 2020.

Staff Sgt. Natalie Howes of the 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron, New Hampshire Air National Guard, helping answer calls about unemployment benefits with Task Force Call Center at the Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke, New Hampshire, May 2020.

CONCORD, N.H. – For more than five years, Staff Sgt. Natalie Howes has been an air traffic controller with the 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron, New Hampshire Air National Guard.

Howes is also a senior at the University of New Hampshire, where she is studying chemistry. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career as a pilot in the Air Force.

“I want to try and commission,” Howes said. “Ideally, I would want to be a pilot.”

Howes has always had a love and passion for aviation. “When I was little, I lived right next to the Manchester Airport and I would love to go watch the planes,” she said.

In support of the state’s COVID-19 relief efforts, Howes was activated April 17 to assist with Task Force Call Center at the Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke. Her orders were to help answer calls for unemployment until May 17, but they were extended through May 31. She’s happy to continue with the mission.

“She has been extremely professional on all the calls,” said Maj. Ryan Tannian, officer in charge. “She’s picked up on it very quickly. She’s very knowledgeable on the unemployment process now.”

Howes is dedicated and passionate about her duties.

“Numerous times she has stayed late to finish up a call,” said Master Sgt. Jennifer Frisina, a call center supervisor. “Even though she can’t see the person she’s talking to through the phone, she continues to smile, and that makes a big difference.”

As of May 9, Howes was reassigned to the COVID-19 mapping team. “I was actually going to nominate her for the Airman of the week next week, but sadly she is leaving my room,” Frisina said.

Howes said she feels like this is a time to give more to her community. “Sometimes I feel like being in the Guard, I want to do more,” Howes said. “It is hard to find the opportunities, but this is definitely a chance to do more.”

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