Key spouse program supports Airmen, families

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mosness
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Air Force spouses play a key role in mission readiness. As the warriors on the home front, spouses have to keep everything together while their Airman is completing the Air Force mission. The Air Force key spouse program plays a vital role helping spouses connect in their community. This program is especially important here.

"The Key Spouse program is important because it bridges the gap between families and squadron leadership and helps leadership to identify any morale and readiness concerns that would impact the mission," said Jackie Pope, Keesler Airman & Family Readiness Center chief. "It also establishes continuous contact with spouses/families and provides an informal sounding board, strengthens leadership's support team and is vital to building strong AF communities."

The program was standardized across the Air Force in March 2006 to look at the needs of all military families with a special emphasis on care to families throughout deployments.

In a memorandum from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh dated June 23, Welsh stated the of importance of the Key Spouse Program.

"I believe spouses' incredible breadth of experience and enduring influence are invaluable. . . With this smart, talented, engaged group of spouses who represent the bedrock of our Airmen, key spouses are bridging a gap to ensure that you know of any concerns that would impact morale and readiness."

One significant piece about the program is that it follows Air Force guidelines, so the same rules will be followed at each new base Airmen and their families go to. Training takes place throughout the year to keep up standards.

"Recently, Headquarters Air Force Personnel Center Airman and Family Care Directorate hosted an Integrated Process Team for the Air Force Key Spouse Programs," Pope said. "The goal for the IPT was to evaluate current guidance and training and make necessary program updates to meet the needs of our Air Force Community. The A&FRC hosted several of these teleconferences where Mentors and Key Spouse participated helping to identify expectations, determine shortfalls, and provided valuable input and feedback. Commanders and first sergeants were also polled separately via a DCO."

Along with the continued training, there is also initial training to become a key spouse.

"There are specific training requirements to become a key spouse," Pope explained. "There are 12 hours of training split into two six hour sessions. The key spouse core training is the first of the six hour training and then attendance at one of the quarterly Heart Link programs satisfies the other six hours. The Air Force Aid Society provides childcare hours through the Family Home Daycare program for spouses to attend this mandated training and the A&FRC can assist with setting that up."

It is important that key spouse candidates have certain characteristics, Pope said. Some of the things an ideal candidate should have are the following characteristics, she added.

· unit family member
· positive attitude about the Air Force
· ability to communicate and listen
· passion, time and energy to do the job
· organizational and coordination skills
· ability to follow directions and understand the chain of command
· trustworthiness
· dependability
· outgoing, friendly and self-confident

Those looking to get involved should first contact their squadron's first sergeant, Pope said.

"Commanders would meet with prospective spouses and if they feel like they'd be a good fit for the squadron, will appoint them in writing to the A&FRC," Pope continued.
For information on training requirements to become a key spouse, contact Lisa Lyons at the Airman & Family Readiness Center at 376-8728.

For more information on the Air Force key spouse program view the Key Spouse Reference Guide.

Upcoming Training

Mentor Training August 14 at 9 a.m.

Key Spouse Core Training August 19 at 8:45 a.m.

Heart Link Program Sept. 11. This training is required attendance for all new mentors and key spouses.