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Air Guardsman transitions to chapel to help others

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U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Natali Avelino, 195th Wing religious affairs noncommissioned officer, stands next to stained glass window inside her church Apr. 29, 2020 at Roseville, California. Avelino is an Eastern Orthodox Christian who is a bell-ringer for her church. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Forest Decker)

ROSEVILLE, calif. --

Life offers many changes some large, some small. Staff Sgt. Natali Avelino is in an ongoing transition into the 195th Wing Chaplain Corp of the California Air National Guard with her eyes set on continuing to help others and become a fully qualified religious affairs NCO.

After previously serving six years in the active duty Air Force as an intelligence signals analyst she is currently activated as part of the Joint Task Force 115 Chaplain Corp supporting the California response to COVID-19. This month she will be headed to her technical training school to complete religious affairs initial training.

“I joined the military to help others, working in intel impressed upon me the importance of the work that chaplains do in terms of resiliency and in turn inspired me to live out my own faith by cross-training into Religious Affairs,” said Staff Sgt. Natali Avelino, 195th Wing religious affairs.

It has been a busy time learning her new job as well as assisting her fellow Californians during the COVID-19 response.

“We are in charge of the spiritual wellness for the JTF, so we are responsible for reaching out to units across the state,” said Avelino. “We go and visit them and see how everyone is doing and if people want to talk, we are the confidential ear to listen and help work through issues that they might be having.”

During traditional operations at the 195th Wing Avelino performs a similar mission but with a different audience.

“Instead of visiting the Guardsman that have been called up to work at food banks, nursing centers and shelters who are packing food and taking care of the sick during this response. We would normally be responsible for all the units attached to the wing, we cover from Beale all the way down to San Diego.”

After the current humanitarian activation and she completes her technical training she plans to continue with college and her goal of helping people in a different way.

“The guard has helped me pursue my education goals, I like that I can still serve while going after my own goals of helping others through social work or clinical psychology,” said Avelino. “This is a great means to accomplish that goal.”

Avelino has a message for her fellow Guardsman currently working throughout the state.

“People are more resilient than they think they are, with that being said they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, I want them to know that if they need help there is whole network there for them.”