Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio --The military strives to support families of its deployed members. One of the most effective ways is through the Key Spouse Program.
“The Key Spouses can help take care of families during a deployment,” said Beth Miller, the 88th Air Base Wing’s key spouse mentor and spouse of Col. Patrick Miller, 88 ABW and installation commander.
“The Airmen and Family Readiness Center works closely with the Key Spouses to ensure they have the most up-to-date resource and help agency list to assist the families. If a family has a need arise, the Key Spouses can give the contact information or link them with the appropriate help they may need.”
Nearly 120 Airmen from the 88th Medical Group are currently deployed to Detroit for a COVID-19 vaccination mission in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
AFRC also provides the Key Spouses with a plethora of items and services families are eligible to receive during a deployment, including pillow cases, teddy bears, journals and oil changes for vehicles.
“Our Key Spouses also make contact with the families via phone, email or text. We are a helping hand,” Beth Miller said. “Sometimes, families just want an ear from someone who understands and has walked in the same shoes. We understand how they are feeling during a deployment and can offer tips, strategies and fellowship during this time.
“Our goal is to make a deployment run more smoothly. In turn, this helps the deployed member focus on the mission downrange when their family is being taken care of by their unit and Key Spouses.”
The Key Spouse Program can help point anyone in need in the right direction. Its facilitators have an abundance of knowledge to share and aim to serve all military families.
“We aim to empower these spouses to support their unit’s command team and families,” said Kathy Hobbs, Key Spouse Program coordinator. “A well-functioning Key Spouse Program consists of commander, first sergeant, key spouse and key spouse mentor working together to ensure members and families receive needed support, advocacy, information and referral to helping agencies. This promotes unit cohesion and resiliency.”
The Key Spouse Program is made up of volunteers appointed by their unit’s commander. These individuals undergo initial and annual training requirements.
Many base units don’t have an assigned key spouse or key spouse mentor. If you want to give to the community and serve in either role, reach out to your unit command team or call AFRC at 937-257-3592 to learn more.