As service-minded volunteers, Air Force Key Spouses play an important role in building strong and resilient units, especially at the squadron level.
Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors serve as part of the Air Force Key Spouse Program and are selected and appointed in writing by unit commanders to act as official unit representatives. The Key Spouse Program is an official Air Force unit family readiness element designed to enhance readiness, strengthen personal and family resilience and help foster a sense of community among Airmen and families.
"Key Spouses provide an avenue for two-way communication between unit leadership and members," said Linda Logan, Key Spouse Program manager at the Air Force's Personnel Center. "They work within units and squadrons to help connect unit and family members to information and support services while providing a sense of belonging within the unit."
Key Spouses serve as part of the commander's support team that usually consists of the commander, first sergeant, unit superintendent or a senior noncommissioned officer. Key Spouse Mentors support Key Spouses by sharing their expertise, providing encouragement and advocating for the program.
As dedicated volunteers, Key Spouses assist with everything from maintaining family contact rosters to organizing unit care packages for deployed squadron members.
"Leaders across the Air Force have witnessed how a robust Key Spouse Program reinforces families and helps build a positive culture," said Logan. "Key Spouses help strengthen units while building a sense of belonging, resilience and community."
Key Spouses serve as the focal point for communication with local unit members and actively support the program at commander's calls, various events and through social media.
A typical Key Spouse volunteer completes six or more hours of training annually, which includes initial and refresher training and are given a Key Spouse handbook, and Key Spouse Mentor volunteers complete additional mentor training. The specialized training ensures they have the most up-to-date resources in their toolkit.
Amy Kiger has been a Key Spouse and Key Spouse Mentor for more than eight years.
"Whether our folks are married, single or single parents, we recognize the importance of strengthening bonds at the squadron level, especially with those new to the area," said Kiger, whose husband serves as a senior master sergeant and first sergeant with the 45th Medical Group at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. "Our goal is to help Airmen feel connected through our Facebook group, monthly get-togethers and other avenues."
Many Key Spouses are teachers, executives, nurses, fathers, mothers and more. In addition to being a volunteer, Kiger is also an elementary school teacher.
"Even with our busy schedules, we try to assist in any way we can and help our folks feel like they are part of the squadron family," Kiger said. "If a member of the squadron is having surgery, giving birth or experiencing some other trying time, we do our best to reach out to that individual."
When needed, Key Spouses also provide important referrals to agencies such as the Military and Family Life Counseling Program, Airman's Attic, Air Force Aid Society, Exceptional Family Member Program and other programs offered through Airman and Family Readiness Centers.
"We do not want Airmen and their families to feel like they are on an island and hesitant to ask for help," Kiger said. "We want them to be connected."