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NEWS | Aug. 23, 2013

Key Spouse Program builds resilient Airmen and families

By Senior Airman Kayla Newman 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In today's Air Force, it is vital to build strong communities and enhance family resiliency.

Spouses prove to be the force behind the force, as the Key Spouse Program strives to increase quality of life for family members.

"The Key Spouse Program is the official family readiness program that supports Airmen and their families during deployments, separations and emergencies," explained U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dawn Chapman, Airman and Family Readiness Center readiness noncommissioned officer. "Along with enhancing and encouraging regular communication between units and families, this program also helps commanders and first sergeants connect with families through volunteers who work to keep the families informed."

The Key Spouse Program, a unit commander's program, is designed to promote individual, family and unit readiness. The program establishes continuous contact with spouses and families of Service members, strengthening the leaderships support team.

The program is comprised of the unit commander, first sergeant, Key Spouses and the AFRC, and was initially developed as a quality of life initiative out of concern for Air Force families.

"Key Spouses are the face of unit leadership to families," said Chapman. "They provide peer to peer wingman support and inform and refer family members."

Key Spouse volunteers can be the spouse of a commissioned officer, enlisted Airman or a Department of Defense civilian, and must be appointed by the unit commander.

Once appointed as a Key Spouse, the individual must attend initial Key Spouse training, followed by a Heart Link course and Spouse Suicide Awareness Training.

Key spouses' hard work and efforts do not go unnoticed.

"They are genuine spouses," said Master Sgt. Adrian Rivera, 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations superintendent. "They want nothing more than to support the needs of other spouses, especially when the Service member is deployed."

The Key Spouses in each unit make Service members' deployments much easier to cope with, explained Rivera.

Rivera's wife, Meloni, was recently named the 2012 U.S. Air Forces in Europe Key Spouse of the Year.

While stationed at the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Meloni expanded the squadron's Key Spouse Program, established the LRS Key Spouses' Facebook page, coordinated dorm events for unaccompanied Airmen and organized numerous activities for families of deployed Service members.

"Meloni is very humble," explained Rivera. "Although she is very deserving of the award, she believes that all the Key Spouses deserve recognition because one spouse could not do it all."

Meloni and fellow Key Spouses around the Air Force prove to be an instrumental part of the military family.

"I have had many Airmen come to me to pass along thanks for what the Key Spouses do," shared Rivera. "Never in their careers have they known the spouses to be such a key part of squadron leadership."

The Key Spouse Program is very significant to the Airmen and families, said Chapman. She believes in the importance of the program at Langley.

"With the Key Spouses caring for families on the home front, it allows the warfighter to focus on his or her mission," said Chapman.

For more information on the Key Spouse Program contact Master Sgt. Dawn Chapman or Master Sgt. Flerida Taylor at the AFRC at 764-3990.