Key Spouses: Unlocking the power of wingmanship

  • Published
  • By Natalie McCoy
  • 50th Space Wing

The reach of a key spouse can change lives. I often get asked “What is the Key Spouse Club?” Hopefully in the future we can eliminate that question from the minds of families across the Air Force.

Key spouses are volunteers interviewed and appointed by squadron commanders to act as an extension of squadron leadership to the families in that squadron. These volunteers complete an initial training course with Airmen and Family Readiness Center and then complete continuing education hours annually. Key spouses are people driven to improve the quality of life of the military family.

This program is a commander’s program, each command may implement the program differently but ultimately the involvement of squadron leadership is key to the success of the program. This program has the capability of changing lives simply by having the information flow between families and leadership.

When the family is cared for, they have information and feel connected, then the military member can go to work and complete the mission effectively. When military members are having family related issues, their work performance and productivity may decrease and their days out of work may increase. This is why utilizing key spouses can be a vital component of squadron health. Taking care of families is the mission of the key spouses and the key spouse program and it all comes full circle.

Each unit tweaks and molds their program differently and uniquely and this is the beauty of the program. It’s not a program that can be implemented in one format with the expectation of the same result. Every squadron presents different tasks, deployments, shifts, stressors and styles and the program must meet the squadron on the path and then find a way together. Key spouses are trained to look for the uncommon in an attempt to identify families potentially in need. We attend deployment departures and arrivals upon return, we host family friendly events to allow for networking among the families and we’re available in times of need. We look to learn about our communities and what they may offer to our families. We look to our communities and offer support in return where we can. We care for people in the middle of the night, during the day and on weekends because sometimes all it takes to help someone through is a listening ear and maybe a resource they weren’t aware of.

The common ground for all of the key spouses I’ve ever worked with is we genuinely care and want people to succeed in this military lifestyle. If the ability to care is present, then the responsibility to care should also be present and is a part of being a wingman.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For information on the 446th AW Key Spouse Program contact the Airmen and Family Readiness center at 253-982-2755.