Supporting Families: 116th Key Spouse Program

  • Published
  • By Maj. Renee Massey
  • 116th Wing Staff
To most of us, family is first and foremost. They are the reason we go to work everyday, earn a living, and help defend a country that ensures their freedoms. But many times, it is our unique work that takes us away from these precious people and quite often, we may be separated for months at a time. Thankfully, there is a network of support within the 116th Air Control Wing to assist and 'look out' for our families while we are apart-- the Unit Key Spouse Program.

While there have always been spouse's groups within squadrons throughout the years, the AF Key Spouse Program, established in March 2009, promotes a communication network between squadron leadership and families through a volunteer unit spouse or 'Key Spouse'. This person, who is normally not the commander's spouse, serves as an informal sounding board to squadron families. The Key Spouse is interviewed and selected by the squadron commander and First Sergeant, and receives training in human relations, stress management, and communication skills through the 116th Family Readiness Office or Robins Air Force Base Airmen and Family Readiness Center.

The Key Spouse establishes and maintains contact with all families within the squadron. They serve as the unit's representative and oversee events such as welcoming new families, farewell to departing families, assisting during pre-deployment, communicating with spouses during deployment and participating in welcome home activities. The Key Spouse is well versed in family readiness resources such as child care programs, AF Aid Society programs, Military One Source, and Family Advocacy Program, to only name a few. The squadron's First Sergeant works closely with the Key Spouse by providing administrative and logistical support and acting as a link between the squadron commander and the Key Spouse.

Recently, the 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron received the 2009 Annual National Guard Outstanding Family Readiness and Support Award for their Key Spouse program. The squadron's Key Spouse, Mrs. Kelly Israel, obtained contact information and gathered survey data which enabled her to make contact with 100% of all families within the squadron. A total of 132 spouses were contacted during this campaign.

"The 78th Airmen and Family Readiness Center assisted Mrs. Israel with the calls and responses received were the most positive results of any squadron contact campaign according to the Readiness Center," said Lt. Col. Bill Gould, 12th Airborne Command and Control Squadron commander.

Since the call campaign, nearly 10 months ago, the squadron Key Spouse program has scheduled monthly activities to bring spouses together. Quite often, new friendships are forged during these events. Additionally, the unit deploys members and welcomes members back home on a monthly basis. When this happens, the Key Spouse group has been there each month with home baked treats and fellowship.

"As a spouse, it's important to know that someone is there for me-- especially when my loved one is deployed," said Mrs. Kelly Israel, 12th ACCS Key Spouse. "I communicate with every spouse during a deployment."

When asked about winning an award for the program, Mrs. Israel was quick to point out that the award was earned because of the work of the squadron.

"It was an honor to win an award, but it's not about me, this award was a team effort," said Mrs. Israel.

To learn more about the Key Spouse Program, contact your squadron's First Sergeant.