Spouse to Spouse: Key Spouse Program
By Christina M. Callisto Free Lance Writer
Published in the October/November 2010 issue of the Military Voice & Community News
“Welcome to the Air Force family! Someone will contact you shortly.”
This is what the Key Spouse is for. A welcome to a new life style, a new location, a new mission.
“Someone will contact you while your spouse is deployed.”
The Key Spouse Program is the Commander’s program to specifically address concerns and needs of the dependents of Airmen throughout the Air Force. It’s the official communication network for spouses: official selection of volunteers, official oversight, and feedback right to the Commander. Military personnel have a First Sergeant to go to. Key Spouses are there to help you to get to what you need, help you to understand, and help you and your family through each phase of deployment and PCSing. They want to make sure you know all there is and have smooth transitions through military life.
Deployment is where Key Spouses shine. Some people have only work, others have kids, many juggle both. Each situation has its own needs. Perhaps you are also in the military. Who can you talk to? Who will listen to your troubles or help break up the loneliness when a spouse is remote? Are others experiencing what you or your kids are going through? Where can you share great news and funny pictures? Have a “grievance?” Keys work with you and the chain of command or necessary base agency. They will be your eyes, ears, and speak up for you.
When your Airman is deployed, the Key is there so you have someone for each of these questions and more. You may only need them once or twice during a military career or each and every deployment. The Key Spouse(s) will call periodically until homecoming to see how you are and if you need anything. Be honest. Let them know your stresses and joys, share how your children are handling the separation. Set up a schedule for contact (each week or every other) and the method (phone call, email, website, etc.). It truly helps the days and weeks pass by so much faster when you have a “hello” to look forward to every once in a while.
You do not need to deal with the anxiety or fear that may crop up by yourself. Face to face, email, phone, text, and social websites are just a few ways you can choose to be contacted and to make contact.
Depending on the size and need of the squadron or group, the number of Keys varies. Key Spouses can be husbands or wives, civilian, active duty or retired, enlisted or officer. They care for us so our spouses focus on the mission with the knowledge that the family is safe and looked after at all times. The Airman and Family Readiness Center (A&FRC) can put you in touch with your Key Spouse(s).
“As a dependent, who can I ask?” As an official unit representative Key Spouses are conduits of information. Passing along base and squadron updates, programs, resources, and contact numbers, fact support is the obvious part of the job. But the emotional and social support is greatly needed and often goes untold and unknown. This is what we as spouses need the most: the open door policy with peace of mind. Keys are available but they are not taxis, babysitters, or councelors.
As with life in general, what you put in to it is what you get out of it. Take advantage of everything that is offered to you and your family by the base, the squadron, and the Airman and Family Readiness Center. And keep going back. Let them know what you think, what you liked, what isn’t working, what you need and what you want to see more of. Remember, this is all for you and your family.