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NEWS | July 22, 2020

COVID-19 Update #14

By Maj. Gen. David Mikolaities

To the Soldiers, Airmen, and Civilian Employees of the NHNG,
 
With New Hampshire being one of a few states bucking a summer resurgence of COVID-19, we have been able to safely and efficiently scale back our relief efforts due in no small part to your extraordinary performance over the past 120 days.
 
From closing the surge facilities to completing the call center mission last week, you have met and exceeded every challenge during what has been the largest, and longest, Guard call-up for a noncombat event in our nation’s history. For those who supported the unemployment call center mission, a huge thanks from the Governor, who tweeted and then mentioned during his press conference how the N.H. National Guard helped field 540,000+ calls over the last four months. (see homepage link).  Metrics are an easy way to measure accomplishments, but they do not capture the essence of the soldiers and airmen performing these missions day in and day out. Make sure to take a look at the Spring 2020 New Hampshire Guardsman magazine, which is focused on our COVID-19 response.
 
We currently have about 300 N.H. guardsmen – 230 soldiers and 70 airmen – who continue to support a core group of enduring missions to include drive-thru testing, DHHS mapping, distribution of PPE, and NH Food Bank operations. With the opening of schools a month away, New Hampshire is counting on us to maintain the same high level of competency and professionalism.
 
In the midst of our historic response, the Governor and Congressional Delegation have worked hard behind the scenes for additional benefits for our guardsmen, families and veteran community. Last week they sent letters to the President and Secretary of Defense requesting an extension of Title 32 status through Christmas, and recently the Governor earmarked $3 million in Cares Act funding in support of both Veterans Service Organizations as well as traditional Veteran Services support programs. We are seeing an uptick in the demand for veteran services as restrictions are lifted. There were 134 appointments in June, compared to 90 in May.
 
We’ve also been able to maintain our readiness. Annual trainings are back on schedule. The annual marksmanship competition, held earlier this month, attracted more than 50 soldiers and airmen who vied for top team and individual marksmanship honors. For the second consecutive year, the NHNG is hosting a regional Cyber Yankee exercise July 20 – 31 at the Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke. Army and Air National Guard cyber defense teams from across New England will test their skills during a formidable exercise designed to simulate response to cyberattacks. Representatives from various N.H. state government agencies will also participate to include the Departments of Transportation, Safety and Homeland Security.
 
The NH Air National Guard flew 111.4 hours during the month of June, the highest utilization rate since the beginning of the 157th ARW’s KC-46 mission. August will mark the one-year anniversary of the Wing receiving their first KC-46 tanker.
 
Overseas, our deployed soldiers and airmen, 82 in all, continue to do their part supporting combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Jordan. Two guardsmen continue to support the Southwest Border mission.
 
Continue to safeguard against complacency and rumors. Stay informed and be especially mindful of social distancing and hygiene protocols. I encourage each of you to continue to wear a mask when you are out on mission. If you are struggling financially or emotionally, contact the FAC’s resource and referral number at 1-877-598-0666, the Airman and Family Readiness Program Coordinator at 603-828-3892, or our Care Coordination Program at 1-888-989-9924.
 
Sincerely,
 
Major General David Mikolaities
Adjutant General
New Hampshire National Guard