Westover News

Key Spouse Program, never having to go it alone

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. --

“OK, my spouse has just deployed to who knows where, she will be gone for at least the next six months. I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed about what to do about the water main that just burst that supplies my home with all of the water needed for everyday living. Because my wife is usually the one that handles matters like this, I really don’t know where to begin to remedy this problem. Help.”

Members of the armed services know that it is imperative to get all their personal affairs in order before we deploy. It is important to be certain loved ones are taken care of before we go out the door. It’s times like this when Reserve Citizen Airmen welcome having a group of people who can be trusted to support and encourage their loved ones. These unconditional pillars of support can be a welcome and important relationship to have to help minimize the stresses military families can experience.

“I found myself alone and in a very vulnerable and challenging position when my husband first deployed. I had no one to lean on,” said Therese Sarnelli, Key Spouse volunteer.

Her husband, Master Sgt. Ronald Sarnelli, is a 337th Airlift Squadron flighrt engineer. Sarnelli has been a part of the Key Spouse Program and earlier programs like it for over 11 years. The program is an official unit/family program overseen by commanders designed to enhance readiness and establish a sense of unity within the Air Force community. The program was standardized across the Air Force in March 2006 to address the needs of all military families with special emphasis on support to families across the deployment cycle.

The program helps to provide guidance and support in these areas, which Key Spouses are trained in:

         • Increase awareness of installation/community resources

         • Identify and help resolve issues at lowest levels (providing info on programs, benefits and more)

         • Prepare and support families during separations

         • Improve quality of life among unit families

         • Enhance family resilience

         •Strengthens leadership’s support team

“I became a Key Spouse so others would never have to go through what I had go through alone, “said Sarnelli.

Key Spouse volunteers work together to create a network of resources for all deployed members and their loved ones. This is very important for many members and their families when readying for a deployment. Having a plan of what to do and who to call alleviates much of the stress related to these dynamic and challenging events.

Members are highly encouraged to provide contact information of their loved ones to the Key Spouse Program while out-processing with their respective squadrons. Doing so will give volunteers the ability to check in with the folks at home from time-to-time and let them know they are not alone. But it isn’t mandatory either.

“Family and loved ones will always have the right to be removed from this list,” said DeAnne Biscoe, Key Spouse volunteer. ”Members need to keep in mind that if we never get the contact information of your loved ones, you are not giving them a chance to participate in this program that has been essentially put in place for them.”

The Key Spouse Program is here to better serve loved ones, family and friends, through phone calls to families of deployed Airmen.

“This program facilitates the flow of communication between families, leadership, and base agencies, and enhances mission readiness,” said Jennifer Durham, Key Spouse Mentor.

For more information, Airmen and family members should speak with their unit first sergeants. Additional information on Key Spouse meetings can be found on the back page of this Patriot.