Key Spouses want to pay it forward

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — On April 2, the Airman and Family Readiness Center hosted a Key Spouse Initial Training, providing an overview of the program, orientation details and information regarding resiliency.

Key Spouses are military spouses; there is no rank requirement within the program. Volunteers interview with leadership, and represent their unit for a minimum of 1 year. Three trainings are required. Various programs existed in the past, but the Key Spouse program became U.S. Air Force standardized in March 2009. The training that is given is Air Force-wide. Once a key spouse, always a key spouse. 

The Key Spouse program promotes individual, family and unit readiness, enhancing family resiliency.

Participants began the course by introducing themselves and sharing why they were in attendance. Numerous reasons were shared: the desire to make connections, providing a resource for a small squadron that doesn’t have one, wanting to do what they can before they retire, experience on the Air Force side as an active-duty service member and the spouse side of a relationship and wanting to share what they learned.

“Initial trainings are designed to introduce and familiarize new Key Spouses with the overall program, its intent, resources available, and what they are expected to do as a Key Spouse,” said Senior Master Sgt. Carrie Morgan. “In the Part 1 training, we go over the Air Force Orientation Modules, Resiliency, and Four Lenses, which is a behavioral course used to aid Key Spouses in working with different personalities.”

Some participants in attendance have had a great Key Spouse experience and want to pay it forward. Others are totally new to the Key Spouse program. Vanessa Rico, whose husband Jesse Rico works in the 388th OSS AFE, hopes that by participating she will “get back into the swing of the Air Force and get involved in helping other spouses.” The Rico family has been at Hill for the past four months, but prior to that, they were in the recruitment field for four years. 

So, after speaking with her Squadron Commander, Rico decided to attend the Key Spouse training to “reconnect” and help where she can.

Stephanie Gaffney, whose husband is an F16 Pilot at Hill, is joining “to meet people and help people new to the area.” The sentiment was echoed throughout the room that military spouses have unique experiences they are willing to share — and even being a friendly face to someone just pulling in to base is worth the time.

“While the Key Spouse training informs and prepares Key Spouses, I think firsthand experience is where the bulk of knowledge comes from,” said Morgan. “For that reason, I hope Key Spouses take away the overall intent of the program, but most importantly, I want them to know they are never alone. There are numerous avenues that Key Spouses can direct folks to include the A&FRC, their First Sergeant, IDS agencies, and other Key Spouses that may have more experience with certain issues. Networking is not only a great advantage of this program, it’s also a necessity.”

How can you contribute to the program? “Currently, Team Hill has 134 assigned Key Spouses. While that may seem like a lot, when taken into consideration the massive number of units assigned to Team Hill, that number is actually quite low, said Morgan. “Most units promote recruitment all year long. The program is always in need of dedicated volunteers willing to foster a strong sense of community within their unit.”

Units of Hill Air Force Base are responsible for their Key Spouse program, and volunteers are appointed by their Commander/Director. Interested volunteers should contact their unit’s First Sergeant and/or Commander/Director. If you are unsure who to contact, call the A&FRC at 801-777-4681.