Deployments can be hard — hard on the deployed service member, sure, but also hard on the family left behind and expected to continue existing as if nothing’s changed. What about that family? Who is left to communicate with them? That’s where the key spouse comes into play.
Ever heard of a key spouse? Think the key spouse is the social coordinator? The gossip wrangler? The head spouse? The key spouse is actually none of these things. Although many misconceptions exist as to what the key spouse is, this spouse actually serves a very important role in the readiness and quality of life for Air Force families.
Who are Key Spouses?
The key spouse is an additional resource for Air Force families, most often in times of deployment. They connect you and your family to your airman’s command, in sort of a liaison role. Appointed by the unit commander, key spouses are trained volunteers who help families with resiliency and promote unit cohesion. These spouses have gone through hours of training at the Airman and Family Readiness Center (AFRC) to be eligible to volunteer in the program. These spouses have been put in place to help the Air Force family succeed behind the scenes, ensuring they have access to resources they need, relevant information, and that their needs are being met during despite the challenges that can arise during deployment, reintegration, and just general Air Force life.
Locate Your Key Spouse
If you are inbound to a new location, your key spouse is an excellent resource to help you connect to your new duty station. If you haven’t heard from your spouse volunteer, then you can reach out to the base’s AFRC. Because the program actually belongs to the center, the AFRC maintains a current list of all key spouses located at your duty station. Most of these spouses are willing to talk to you and help you adjust, but they don’t always know when you are inbound. It’s perfectly OK to reach out to AFRC to find your volunteer.
Should Your Spouse Deploy
Your key spouse is there to check in with you and make sure your needs are being met. Since the spouse is an official AFRC volunteer, your key spouse will know programs that are available to help you during the difficult times. Your volunteer will also funnel information as necessary to the commander, making sure your family’s needs are known.
Contact Your Key Spouse
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your designated spouse if you need something — even if your spouse is not currently deployed. Because they are the volunteers who link families to the Air Force, they are truly there to help you meet your family’s needs. If you need an answer or a resource, and you don’t know where to start, chances are you can’t go wrong with reaching out to your designated volunteer.
Wondering what “key spouse” translates to in Marine speak? Learn more about the former Family Readiness Officer and how the program has changed.
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