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Schriever cuts the cord

(From left) Janice Webb, Esther Gutierrez, Deanna Bocanegra, and Tangela Lewis, 50th Space Communications Squadron Defense Switched Network global operators stand in front of the call center March 10,2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. The base is closing the doors to the operator shop doors due to budget cuts March 31, 2015. (Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

(From left) Janice Webb, Esther Gutierrez, Deanna Bocanegra, and Tangela Lewis, 50th Space Communications Squadron Defense Switched Network global operators stand in front of the call center March 10,2015, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. The base is closing the doors to the operator shop doors due to budget cuts March 31, 2015. (Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- After patching through 35 million phone calls for nearly 20 years, the 50th Space Communications Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base is closing the doors on its Defense Switched Network global operator shop due to budget cuts.

The currently 24/7 shop, which provides services to Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado, and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, in addition to Schriever, will no longer be answering calls or providing teleconference services as of of 4 p.m.,  March 31. Instead, customers will be greeted by an automated 50th Space Wing phone tree.

Janice Webb, 50 SCS chief of telephone operators, said she has never had a dull day at her job.

"We received anywhere from 35,000 to 49,000 calls a month," said Webb. "They range from morale calls to general information requests to people needing to schedule a teleconference."

Morale calls make up 90 percent of the calls received, leaving 10 percent as official business.

Webb said being able to connect deployed Airmen to their loved ones is an honor she and her team of seven operators didn't take lightly.

"We take pride in what we do," she said. "We have been able to connect people worldwide and we make sure to answer the phone by the second ring."

In addition to connecting people through a telephone line, Webb said they have also encountered and responded to a bomb threat issued through her line.

"We just followed the protocol and did what we were supposed to," she said modestly.

She said some of the operators have been working here since the call center's induction 20 years ago.

One of those operators, who has been referred to as part of the "Ace Operators" team, is Frances Houston.

"I have been a telephone operator since 1990," said Houston. "Many faces in the operator room have changed but our commitment to provide first-rate support, service and dedication for our Air Force family has not."

She said she has been very fortunate to work with the "Ace Operators" team due to their top-notch service.

"I am so proud of the work we have done," she said.

She added her teammates know they have been a vital part of the base.

"Communication is the backbone to everything," said Houston. "If you don't have it, you're lost."

Webb said she and her staff are saddened by the closure, however, they are grateful to have had the opportunity to work as telephone operators.

"Unfortunately our closing means there will no longer be a personalized touch when customers call," said Webb. "There will be alternatives put in place though."

For customers in need of a telephone directory, call 719-567-1110 or DSN 560-1110 or visit www.schriever.af.mil and click "Frequently Called Numbers" under featured links. For additional information or numbers not listed in phone tree, visit the 50 SW Sharepoint page.

For local teleconferencing services, all existing Meet ME Net numbers will be disabled as of March 31. There will be an Interim Outlook calendar solution setup with new Voice Conference Bridge numbers assigned to each group. Once completed and operational, the 50 SCS will send out instructions on how to use it.

Before the team who "always listens" hangs up, the members would like to express their gratitude to Team Schriever.

"Thanks to all of our loyal customers who have used our services since 1998," the team said. "It has been a pleasure providing you, the warfighter with our personalized services, morale calls, Hearts Apart, DSN and Operation Uplink-Free Call Days provided by the Veterans of Foreign Wars."

For more information please contact 567-6803, 567-6605 or 567-3016.

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