Reserve families create network of support
By Master Sgt. Michelle Helms, 718th Intelligence Squadron, 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing
/ Published December 06, 2019
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
The 655th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing, 718th Intelligence Squadron, is increasing resiliency within the United States Air Force Reserve community with its Key Spouse program.
The 718th IS commander, Lt. Col. Brian Brooks, first sergeant, Master Sgt. Michele Norris, the commander’s spouse, Mrs. Rebecca Brooks, and three of the 718th IS members’ spouses (Mrs. Miracle Spain, Mrs. Kiara Moore and Mrs. Tammie Hernandez) have been dedicated to the Key Spouse program since September 2018.
The U.S. Air Force Key Spouse Program is an official Air Force Unit Family Readiness Program designed to enhance readiness, personal/family resiliency and establish a sense of Air Force community. Key Spouses are spouses of military members of a unit; they are commander-appointed and serve as a vital resource to command teams in an effort to support Air Force families. The strategic vision is to increase resiliency and unit cohesion among military members and their families throughout the military life cycle.
The Key Spouse program is a vital network for supporting reservists and their families. While Key Spouses do not serve as subject matter experts for questions, they do have the training and resources to connect you with the person who has the answers.
Promoting the Key Spouse program and developing resilient leaders throughout Air Force Reserve Command are top priorities for Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee,commander of Air Force Reserve Command, and his wife, Janis.
Mrs. Scobee is heavily involved in the Key Spouse program and serves as the Key Spouse mentor for all of the Reserve’s senior spouses.
“I’ve been involved with Key Spouse ever since it first came along in the Reserve and I think it’s a great way to make sure every family stays connected, either during deployment or day-to-day life. Having a resource like a Key Spouse available 24/7 is super important.”
The 718th's Key Spouse program is currently focusing on deployed families and expecting families.
“A key spouse means someone who promotes resiliency and community within the squadron through resources and activities, as well as making connections with the families,” said Mrs. Spain.
When asked why the ladies wanted to participate in the key spouse program, Mrs. Brooks said she wanted to be involved because of her husband.
“I remember a time or two that my husband was deployed, not knowing who I can talk to if there were issues here at home. I find that the most meaningful part of all of this to me, is that our families feel like they can reach out to me for anything. Whether they need to get in contact with someone in leadership, their spouse, or just want advice on how to handle a particular situation,” Mrs. Brooks said.
Mrs. Moore said one of the reasons it was meaningful to her had to do with her time she and her husband were stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
“I was contacted by a Key Spouse when my husband was deployed. I was also pregnant with our first child. I appreciated the support they offered while he was away. In the future, I would like to reach out to deployed spouses.”
Lt. Col. Brooks said the program is important to him because he wants his squadron to hear from his wife what they’ve gone through.
“The program helped me when we deployed a member and I had reached out to his wife to offer support while he was gone,” Lt. Col. Brooks said. “She didn’t say much to me so I asked Rebecca to give her a call and they talked for almost two hours with my wife guiding her through what to expect over the Airman’s deployment.”
The participating members make baby baskets with essential goods and present them to the pregnant families during the drill weekends.
“So far the most meaningful thing for me was receiving one of the infant baskets that I helped to make. I didn't expect to receive one for some reason but when my husband came home that day with one, it meant a lot to know that we were thought about as well,” Mrs. Spain said. “Rebecca Brooks has been so supportive to me during this transition time of me preparing for the baby and actually having her so that meant a lot as well.”
When looking to the future of the program, Lt. Col. Brooks said the next step he’d like to see is for the Key Spouses to provide welcome packages to the unit’s newest Airmen, like they’ve done with the baby baskets.
“It’s just that extra step that shows the 718th is completely engaged in our Airmen, whether they are new, deployed or getting ready to retire,” Lt. Col. Brooks said.
Mrs. Spain had a suggestion about a future project. “[If] I had to think of one, I would say as a mom, maybe hosting a playgroup for moms in the squadron. This would provide a way for the moms to connect with other moms who may not know anyone in the area as well as allow the children to make connections as well,” Mrs. Spain said.
Master Sgt. Norris believes the Key Spouse program is the true heartbeat of the squadron that unites all of the squadron spouses to the happenings and current events of the squadron.
“They (Key Spouses) are the collaborative arm between the squadron commander, first sergeant and the members,” Norris said. “Their involvement is vital to the high morale that is sustained within the 718th. The success of the 718th Key Spouse program is a true testament to the hard work and dedication that each key spouse gives from their busy lives. We are so thankful for their time, efforts and are grateful for their service and continued support.”
For more information on the Key Spouse program, reach out to your Airman and Family Readiness center.