Key Spouses- the bridge between family and leadership
By Senior Airman Malissa Lott, 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published December 06, 2016
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
Establishing relationships across the base is a focus that many in leadership find incredibly important. It allows them to support airmen completing the mission not only at home station, but deployed as well.
This often includes supporting the families of those airmen. When an airman deploys, they leave behind their family and the many responsibilities, which leaves their families picking up extra duties in their day-to-day life.
“In order for the deployed member to get through that mission set, we’ve got to have a good support network back here,” said Chief Master Sgt. Sean Conlan, 726th Air Control Squadron chief enlisted manager. “The Key Spouses Program is one of the best that I’ve seen.”
The Key Spouse Program is an official Air Force unit family readiness program designed to enhance mission readiness and resiliency and establish a sense of community. Commanders are responsible for maintaining and supporting the program.
With the 726th recently deployed, this program has been crucial in keeping a strong support network for the families of deployed airmen.
Sometimes situations arise that greatly test the line of communication. When a family member is sick or is facing another hardship, the quick response time of key spouses and leadership becomes vital.
“We want constant communication flowing so that when the folks do deploy, their [spouses] know what the communication process is to get help and get help quickly,” said Lt. Col. Sean Higgins, 726th ACS commander. “We don’t want them looking at the recall roster for the first time and think, ‘I don’t know who to call.”
Relaying to the deployed service member and reassuring them their family at home station is being taken care of helps keep their mind on the mission down range.
“We’ve had a couple of situations where a spouse went in to the hospital and the first thing they did as they were going to the [urgent care center], was they called their key spouse and told them what was going on,” Higgins said. “We were able to make quick arrangements to watch the kids and meet them at the hospital.”
Along with being a support system for the airmen and families of units, they work as the middle man between leadership and spouses.
“We work closely with the Airman and Family Readiness Center so the team over there has been tremendous in supporting our key spouse program and making sure it stays strong,” Conlan said. “So they will partner with our key spouses and any time they have an event going on, they call us and ask if we want to be a part of it.”
Anything from car troubles to needing a listening ear, the Key Spouse Program has been a front line support for spouses and airmen during the wartime mission.
“Sometimes that military member will contact that key spouse maybe before they would contact their supervisor,” Conlan said. “Sometimes just to say, ‘my spouse is having these issues, can you help them?”
Supporting airmen and their families while deployed or at home station is a mission that isn’t taken lightly by leadership in the Air Force
“It’s part of the airman culture and family that we take care of each other,” Conlan said.