An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

You’re not alone

Key spouses pose during an appreciation night Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The key spouse program is an Air Force wide, commander-supported volunteer program operated by the Schriever Airmen and Family Readiness Center. The program's mission is to improve Air Force members' quality of life by providing community support and resources to spouses facing a relocation, separation, deployment, crisis or to lend an ear. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Key spouses pose during an appreciation night Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. The key spouse program is an Air Force wide, commander-supported volunteer program operated by the Schriever Airmen and Family Readiness Center. The program's mission is to improve Air Force members' quality of life by providing community support and resources to spouses facing a relocation, separation, deployment, crisis or to lend an ear. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Moving to a new place can be tough, especially if that place is a military installation in a city thousands of miles away without any familiar faces.

Je'Mahl Ray, Wing Staff Agency key spouse, remembers how he felt when he first arrived at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, from Atlanta.

"When my wife first got into the Air Force, I didn't know too much about the military life, but the picture in my head was 'it's all about her' and I was just there kind of hanging around," he explained.

That perception was challenged when he encountered the key spouse program.
The key spouse program is an Air Force-wide, commander-supported volunteer initiative coordinated by installation Airman and Family Readiness Centers.

"It's a program designed to enhance mission readiness and resiliency and establish a sense of community," said Heidi Goodbar, key spouse coordinator and community readiness consultant. "It's an official Air Force family readiness program."

Key spouses work within a squadron or unit to help connect families to information and support services.

"I realized, once hearing about the key spouse program, that it really wasn't just about [the service member], but the entire family," said Ray. "So I began to wonder if other spouses felt the way that I did."

Ray chose to become a key spouse and was appointed March 2015.

Potential key spouses are interviewed and appointed by the unit, squadron or group commanders based on their positive outlook on life and the military and commitment to making a difference within the unit. In addition, volunteers complete more than eight hours of orientation classes to be certified.

Ensuring spouses are getting the information they need is an important responsibility of a key spouse.

Airman carrying out their missions may sometimes take in an overwhelming amount of information. When it comes to opportunities and resources for spouses and families, some information can get overlooked. Key spouses can help make those connections.

"Key spouses are a resource for spouses and families - a place for spouses to go for information they may need," said Ray. "Whether it's counseling, financial information or figuring out what's a good school to go to here for [their] kids, it's a real solid place for resources but more than that they're a part of the family."

It is crucial for key spouses to connect with their units, so the initial challenge for new key spouses may be ensuring their people know they are there for them. Ray currently works as a School Age Program caregiver with 5-12 year olds, so building relationships with their parents and families was an easy transition.

As a key spouse, Ray promoted initiatives including a youth art project for Wounded Warriors, photography club, volunteering as a science, technology, engineering and math instructor and many more. Because of his work, Ray earned the 50th Space Wing Key Spouse of the Year award for 2015.

Although earning the award was a great honor, Ray's true satisfaction is in the moments he gets to share with the people he serves.

"I think we get paid in seeing an Airman smile, or seeing lives changed. We get paid in seeing that we had a positive effect in someone's life - be it through a conversation or a hug. That payment will far outlast any dollar amount," said Ray.

Leslie Janaros, 50th Mission Support Group key spouse, expressed her gratitude for Schriever key spouses at an appreciation event Tuesday, March 8.

"I appreciate you all for stepping up, that you are loving people where they are at, that you are able to rejoice over triumphs and you're there when people need help," she said.  "It's because of what you do that we have this family out here at Schriever."

Ray agrees that the key spouse program is focused on cultivating a family atmosphere.

"You're not here by yourself," said Ray. "There's a group here that can help you get acclimated to this base and the family life of Schriever. Because Schriever is that - it's a family."

For more information on the key spouse program, call the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 567-3920.
Previous Story
Next Story