HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. --
More than 54 percent of Air Force members are married, which presents a particular need for communication and continuity to extend between units and members’ spouses.
In order to meet this need, the Air Force rolled out the Key Spouse Program service-wide in March 2009.
“The Key Spouse Program is vital to the Hanscom community because key spouses are part of the leadership triad,” said Col. Taona Enriquez, 66th Air Base Group and installation commander. “They are the pulse of the community. They make sure families are connected where otherwise we may not be able to.”
Key spouses are typically military spouse volunteers who are appointed by unit commanders to function as conduits of information between the organizations and other spouses. The program’s mission is to, “provide information and resources to military spouses, supporting families in successfully navigating throughout the military lifecycle,” according to the program’s guidebook.
Key spouse mentors provide information on community resources, volunteer opportunities and referral services to outside agencies."
The Hanscom Key Spouse Program is managed by Christina D’Amico, Military and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant.
Key spouses are invited to wingman days, stand-ups and commander calls.
“Often, families can feel left out or unsure of where to find support,” said D’Amico. “This is especially true in periods of deployment, transitions, permanent change of station moves, life changes, and those enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program.”
The installation also hosts a monthly newcomer’s briefing, and key spouses have the opportunity to attend the event in order to connect with new members and their families.
“Key spouses are the face of the new families coming in,” said Enriquez. “They are the problem solvers who help us address challenges we otherwise wouldn’t know existed and are the ears and voice of the community.”
The commander added the opportunities to connect are endless with the help of the Key Spouse Program.
For those interested in becoming a key spouse, officials suggest contacting their spouses’ first sergeant or commander.
The unit commander then nominates the individual to become a key spouse and connects them with the M&FRC for six hours of mandatory training. Key spouses are educated on installation support agencies – what they do, where they are located and how to contact them. They also receive training on how to approach and report incidents related to sexual assault, domestic violence and suicide prevention. After the initial training, key spouses receive quarterly continuing education training.
One thing that makes the program unique at Hanscom is that volunteers not only live on and around Hanscom, but there are also representatives from geographically separated units.
“The current key spouse roster has individuals as far away as New York,” said D’Amico. “Additionally, we have multiple recruiting key spouses scattered throughout New England. This is helpful for military families who may not reside near the installation but would like the support and comradery that comes with being a military family.”
For further information, visit https://www.hanscomfss.com/airman-family-readiness or call 781-225-2765.