'Keys' link spouses with peers, information

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
For many spouses, the responsibility of being a military spouse may sometimes feel overwhelming.

To help bridge the informational and personal gaps between the Air Force and its spouses, many commanders have constructed a Key Spouse Program within their units.

"Key Spouses or 'Keys' are like civilian first sergeants," said Master Sgt. Ben Aylward, Airman and Family Readiness Center readiness NCO and wing KSP coordinator. "They help build stronger communication channels between leadership, spouses and other family members, and provide peer-to-peer support."

Throughout 2012, peer-to-peer support was essential in one squadron's feat of overcoming tragedy.

"We had several deaths within CE this past year," said Jenn Meyer, a 341st Civil Engineer Squadron Key Spouse. "My husband and I also lost our son. The Key Spouses were there to provide crucial support to their squadron and our family this past summer. They provided meals and helped us grieve. It made me feel proud and grateful to serve with them."

Meyer, a 10-year program veteran, became a Key Spouse before the Air Force-wide program was officially established.

"When we were at Moody [Air Force Base, Ga.], the deployment tempo was picking up so I just started calling spouses of deployed Airmen to keep them informed," Meyer said. "I care about families. If you have a spouse who understands the military it makes it easier for that military family as a whole."

According to Meyer, the role of Key Spouse is no small undertaking.

"The mission can't succeed if families aren't taken care of," Meyer said. "So we need Key Spouses who are enthusiastic and want to learn about the military. To be a Key Spouse it only takes the desire to want to help others. We've helped spouses with car troubles, day care needs, [permanent change of station] concerns and other small or large issues that they have. We organize many squadron events to bring the families together at home. We want to be their family because so many are far away from family."

Today, 40 spouses across 12 units volunteer as Key Spouses. Spouses interested in becoming a Key Spouse or getting linked up with one should contact their spouse's unit first sergeant.