Thursday, April 11, 2013

TOP STORY >> Key Spouses support families on base

By Airman 1st Class Cliffton Dolezal
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Surviving the daily grind is no easy feat especially for military families. The Key Spouses Program is an organization that helps military families with everything from attending deployment events and giving out information to referrals and child care.

The Air Force’s Key Spouse program is a commanders’ program and was test driven in 1996 after seeing the success that the Navy had with their own spouse program, the Ombudsman program, which helped promote healthy and self-sufficient families.

“Key spouses are there to take care of the families,” said Kori Ramirez, Airmen and Family Readiness Center community consultant and Key Spouse program manager.

 After years of testing the program, the Air Force finally implemented a curriculum of their own in 2009 to train key spouses.

“That’s our part here at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, to ensure they are all properly trained on key spouse duties such as suicide awareness and the Heartlink program, which is the Air Force’s program to get spouses used to the Air Force,” said Ramirez.

The Key Spouses are there to help find the resources to solve problems so that it doesn’t interfere with the mission.

“We do this so the active duty member deployed down range isn’t having to worrying about issues at home,” said Ramirez. “We are really here to be a face and a name for families to know and come to, so we can help because that’s what we’re here for.”

Before the Key Spouse program, there were no such programs readily available that were installed to get a new Airman and his family used to the Air Force or relief from some of the stresses of dealing with a deployed family member. A lot of Airmen would be calling home from an overseas location trying to get their spouses help or solve issues and it was distracting them from the mission.

“I think that with having structure and a plan in place, everyday life issues can be resolved here on the base, and I think it really makes a big difference,” said Ramirez.

The Key Spouse program here on Little Rock Air Force Base stands at 113 members but is always looking for more volunteers. To get in touch with your unit’s Key Spouse personnel contact your 1st Sgt. or call the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 987-6801.

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