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Key Spouses committed to providing resources, support to Airmen, families

COLUMBUS AIR BASE, Miss. --

Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors are not just the Air Force Key Spouse Program volunteers, but are pivotal to the success of our men and woman in uniform.  While our Airmen are diligently completing their mission, Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors are giving of themselves and time by creating a sense of community and belonging.

Key Spouses are part of a team that consist of the first sergeant, chief master sergeant, superintendent, and or senior NCO, who make up the leadership team. The leadership team are the link between the commander and the Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors, who have been hand selected to serve in an official capacity.

“The Air Force Key Spouse program is a commander’s program to enhance unit family readiness. The role of the Key Spouse is designed to enhance mission readiness and resilience … It is a commander’s initiative that promotes partnerships with unit leadership, families volunteer Key Spouses, Centers, and other installation community agencies.” AFI-36-3009.

Key Spouses and or Key Spouse Mentors are official representatives. They must be appointed in writing by their unit commander. Key Spouses must also sign the appointment letter stating they are in agreeance to requirements to complete eight modules of Key Spouse Initial Training (approximately six hours), or complete the standardized Refresher Training (one hour) – intended for Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors returning to official Key Spouse or Key Spouse Mentor duties following a permanent change of station to a new duty location, Continual Education Training, and to complete annual training on Suicide Awareness and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

Some of the topics covered in Key Spouse Training is communication, generational diversity, social media, operations and cyber security, deployment, disaster preparedness, Personal Identifying Information, Privacy Act and For Official Use Only, and resiliency. The Key Spouse Mentor Training is more of an opportunity for Key Spouse to network with other mentors which add to their experience as seasoned Key Spouses. This allows them to better assist and support Key Spouses which is the role of the mentor within the program. 

The Continual Education Training is offered quarterly to Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors. This training provides information and opportunities to keep the Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors current on local resources and trends both on and off the installation that is relevant to the Key Spouse Program.  The Key Spouse Program is an official unit readiness program and is outlined in AFI-36-3009.

In addition to the above mentioned training which is all provided by the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors are equipped with the knowledge of installation helping agencies that include Airman and Family Readiness Center programs, Chaplain Services, Family Advocacy, Legal Office, Military Family Life Counselors, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Mental Health, and Military One Source, just to name a few.

Having the knowledge of various resources and providing information on the availability of these resources and or services can help family members make good informed decisions that may not only ultimately benefit the entire family, but can be life changing. 

“I’m thankful for the Key Spouse Program here at Columbus AFB because it helped me form relationships with other spouses and feel part of a community,” said Tori Heckman, the spouse of a 37th Flying Training Squadron student pilot. “With this being our first base, I’ve had many questions.  It has been incredible having a Key Spouse I knew I can go to with any questions I had.  My Key Spouse has been a great help and an even greater friend.”

Since Key Spouses and Key Spouse Mentors are usually spouses themselves, the assigned spouses are ever changing.  At any given time there is an average of 42 Key Spouses and 20 Key Spouse Mentors serving here on Columbus AFB. The Airmen and Family Readiness Center has a list of all Key Spouses and Mentors.

For more information, feel free to contact Airmen and Family Readiness Center at 662-434-2790.

Upcoming training dates:

Key Spouse                                     Key Spouse Mentor                   Key Spouse Continual

July 15           9 a.m.-2 p.m.             July 29      9:30-11 a.m.                 Aug. 8          10-11 a.m.

Aug. 19         9 a.m.-2 p.m.              Aug. 26     9:30-11 a.m.                Oct. 17        10-11 a.m.

Sept. 23        9 a.m.-2 p.m.              Sept. 30   9:30-11 a.m.

Oct. 21         9 a.m.-2 p.m.              Oct. 28    9:30-11 a.m.

Nov. 11         9 a.m.-2 p.m.              Nov. 25     9:30-11 a.m.

Dec. 11        9 a.m.-2 p.m.               Dec. 18     9:30-11 a.m.