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Key Spouse program helps unit spouses

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Relocations and deployments can be stressful times for families.  This is especially true for spouses who do not know anyone in the local area. The key spouse program at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, is available to ease some of this strain.

The 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.

In March 2009, the program was standardized and launched at all Air Force installations. Each unit's key spouse team consists of the A&FRC, unit commander, first sergeant, a key spouse mentor and key Spouses.  Schriever AFB has 55 key spouses. The program is open to all Schriever AFB personnel, including tenant unit members assigned to the base.

According to Catherine Bentivegna, key spouse mentor for 50th Space Wing, the program differentiates from the Enlisted and Civilian Spouses' Club and the Officers and Civilian Spouses' Club.

"The difference is the Key Spouse program is not a social group. It's actually more of an informational type of relationship...not in a social setting," said Bentivegna.

Key Spouses should be the first point of contact inbound spouses have. Key Spouses coordinate with first sergeants and sponsors to ensure unit spouses experience a smooth transition to their new unit location.

"Our key spouses and key spouse mentors are encouraged to link up with their squadron sponsors so that they can send out welcome letters, make initial contact and provide information and referral support to the inbound spouses and their families," said Kendra Humphrey, Airmen and Family Readiness Center work/life specialist.

The A&FRC, first sergeants, key spouses and mentors are vital to the flow of information.

"Any information that we receive, whether it is from the wing commander or an agency downtown, is sent to our first sergeants, who send it out to their military members. We send out the same information to the key spouses and mentors to disseminate to spouses and family members. It is vital that incoming personnel provide the contact information for their spouse so that key Spouses and mentors are able to make contact prior to their relocation to Schriever. Providing contact information to key spouses will allow spouses to receive information on A&FRC courses, installations events, festivals, volunteer opportunities, athletic activities and other various events both on/off base," said Humphrey.

The key spouse program would not be possible without dedicated volunteers. Key spouses do more than forward information; they have also helped with coordinating meal trains for sick or overwhelmed spouses and arranged home maintenance within the squadron for spouses whose sponsor is deployed.

"Volunteers are the backbone of this program," said Bentivegna.

Spouses interested in becoming key spouses should contact their unit commander. After an interview and appointment, key spouse candidates will attend 12 hours of training with the A&FRC. 

For more information, contact the A&FRC at 567-3920.
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