Key Spouses serve as com­mu­nity con­nec­tions

Dayton Daily News - - WRIGHT PATT TODAY - By Myra Saxon

The hol­i­day sea­son is here, and while sounds of fes­tive mu­sic play in stores and brightly colored dec­o­ra­tions are dis­played through­out the area, mem­bers of de­ployed forces over­seas still man­age to cel­e­brate away from home.

For some, com­fort dur­ing the hol­i­days comes with ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ca­ma­raderie within their units, but for oth­ers, ex­cite­ment grows with the an­tic­i­pa­tion of the ar­rival of mail filled with good­ies.

Most of the time the mail comes in forms of care pack­ages sent from Key Spouses from the mem­bers’ home units.

That is why Key Spouses are in­te­gral to the over­all Air Force mis­sion. Their pur­pose has been stan­dard­ized across the Air Force to ad­dress the needs of all mil­i­tary fam­i­lies, with spe­cial em­pha­sis on sup­port to fam­i­lies across the de­ploy­ment cy­cle, ac­cord­ing to U.S. Air Force Ser­vices Com­bat Sup­port and Com­mu­nity Ser­vice.

Jacque­line Sha­zor, Air­man & Fam­ily Readi­ness Key Spouse co­or­di­na­tor, re­called a time when a de­ployed mem­ber who had just re­turned from Dji­bouti shared how her of­fice won a “Best Christ­mas Tree” con­test for be­ing the most cre­ative and by dec­o­rat­ing the tree with care pack­age items.

“The tree was made out of empty wa­ter bot­tles that they col­lected from around the camp and real hol­i­day or­na­ments they re­ceived in care pack­ages from their unit Key Spouses,” she said. “Some­times it’s [care pack­ages] the only thing they look for­ward to — it makes them feel spe­cial be­cause they are be­ing thought of.”

Sha­zor stressed the im­por­tance of the role of Key Spouses in en­sur­ing fam­i­lies are get­ting con­nected with es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion and sup­port ser­vices. Some­times fam­i­lies are more com­fort­able con­tact­ing the unit Key Spouse rather than their spouse’s su­per­vi­sor or lead­er­ship. Key Spouses have ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence with the chal­lenges that mil­i­tary de­pen­dents go through and can pro­vide the needed in­for­ma­tion on re­sources.

Not only do Key Spouses serve as on­go­ing com­mu­nity con­nec­tions dur­ing the de­ploy­ment cy­cle, they also pro­vide vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties for spouses out in the com­mu­nity. They serve many pur­poses and may even func­tion as an in­for­mal sound­ing board, she con­tin­ued.

Air Force In­struc­tion 36-3009 out­lines the Key Spouse pro­gram as an of­fi­cial Air Force unit fam­ily readi­ness pro­gram de­signed to en­hance mis­sion readi­ness and re­siliency and es­tab­lish a sense of com­mu­nity.

The pro­gram is owned by unit com­man­ders who set the goals and ob­jec­tives for the pro­gram and as­sign key per­son­nel for the team. Key Spouse vol­un­teers can be mil­i­tary spouses or De­part­ment of De­fense civil­ians and are trained an­nu­ally.

Sha­zor re­cently held a class for Ini­tial Key Spouse and Men­tor train­ing. Top­ics of dis­cus­sion in­cluded avail­able re­sources and ser­vices for pro­grams un­der the In­te­grated De­liv­ery Sys­tem Team.

The team con­sists of the Chap­lain Corps, Air­man & Fam­ily Readi­ness, Fam­ily Ad­vo­cacy, Mil­i­tary Fam­ily Life Con­sul­tants, Al­co­hol and Drug Abuse Pre­ven­tion and Treat­ment, Men­tal Health, Sex­ual As­sault Pre­ven­tion Re­sponse, Em­ploy­ment Equal Op­por­tu­nity, Civil­ian Health and Pro­mo­tion Ser­vices, Em­ployee As­sis­tance Pro­gram, School Li­ai­son Of­fi­cer, Com­mu­nity Sup­port Co­or­di­na­tor and the Fam­ily Readi­ness Pro­gram.

The fol­low­ing train­ing dates are sched­uled for 2019 (All times are 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.):

Jan. 22 March 27 May 2 Aug. 15 Nov. 21

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Key Spouse pro­gram, con­tact the Air­man & Fam­ily Readi­ness Cen­ter at 937257-3592.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Key Spouses are in­te­gral to the over­all Air Force mis­sion. Their pur­pose has been stan­dard­ized across the Air Force to ad­dress the needs of all mil­i­tary fam­i­lies with spe­cial em­pha­sis on sup­port to fam­i­lies across the de­ploy­ment cy­cle, ac­cord­ing to U.S. Air Force Ser­vices Com­bat Sup­port and Com­mu­nity Ser­vice.

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