JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — In today’s Air Force you would be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn’t heard of the Key Spouse Program, but do you really know what a “key spouse” is?
The Key Spouse Program is made up of a cadre of volunteers committed to building a strong Air Force community. Key spouses work within a squadron to help connect families to information and support services.
A key spouse is a special kind of person. That person has a positive outlook on life and the military, and is committed to making a difference within the unit. Key spouses are not just appointed. They earn the position. A typical key spouse volunteer completes 16 or more hours of training annually between initial and continuing education. The specialized training they receive ensures they have the most up-to-date resources on their radar.
A key spouse is a force multiplier when it comes to connecting families to information and services. This sentiment is echoed from our senior leadership and their spouses: “We cannot effectively take care of our Airmen and their families without key spouses,” tweeted Betty Welsh, wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, in a recent TweetChat.
At this point, you may be thinking, that’s a lot of work for one volunteer. This is probably a good time to mention other individuals that are part of the key spouse team. Key spouses are executing the program with a great deal unit of assistance.
The unit commander owns the Key Spouse program. In addition to recruiting, selecting and appointing key spouse volunteers, the unit commander also establishes goals and objectives for the program and assembles team members who make the endeavor positive for the entire unit. The commander’s team can consist of several different people, but is usually a mix of the first sergeant, the unit superintendent, chief or a senior noncommissioned officer. The commander chooses a winning combination based on the personal and family readiness needs of the unit.
In addition, there is a key spouse mentor, who is also a volunteer, but one who possesses a good deal of experience making a life, a family and home within the challenges of the military lifestyle. The mentor assists key spouses by advising them and advocating when needed. Not all units will have a mentor, but those fortunate to have this resource use the knowledge and experience of the mentor to further the program toward achieving the family readiness goals of the unit.
Interested spouses can get more information on the Key Spouse Program by speaking with a current key spouse or key spouse mentors. They will be able to tell you all about your unit’s program. Another resource is your local Airman and Family Readiness Center staff. The A&FRC staff provides training and resource information for Key Spouse Program volunteers.
Our Air Force mission is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace. Our Airmen are really good at what they do, and we need to be really good at taking care of their families. Our Key Spouses are essential to building that strong family and maintaining a resilient force!
For more information on the Key Spouse Program visit the Air Force Personnel Center’s Spouse Support site, contact your current key spouse, key spouse mentor or visit your local Airmen and Family Readiness Center.
For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to https://mypers.af.mil. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following these instructions on the Air Force Retirees Services website.