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Key spouses vital component to SJAFB readiness, resilience

Key Spouses from Team Seymour attend a Casualty Training course, Oct. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The Key Spouse Program is an official unit and family program designed to enhance readiness and establish a sense of Air Force community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Boyton)

Key spouses from Team Seymour attend a Casualty Training course, Oct. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The Key Spouse Program is an official unit and family program designed to enhance readiness and establish a sense of Air Force community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Boyton)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- --

The Key Spouse Program, an official unit and family program, enhances readiness and establishes a sense of Air Force community. 

While service members are deployed, on temporary duty, or working a 12-hour shift, key spouses provide family members extra help, resources, and support when needed.

“One of the most important functions of a key spouse is the ability to answer questions, especially for newer spouses,” said Suzanne Adams, a key spouse. “If they don’t have the answer immediately, we make sure they have a toolbox to be able to get the information.”

Having a Key Spouse Program is important because they help to promote individual, family, and unit readiness, establish continuous contact with spouses and families, encourage peer-to-peer wingman support, and help link the family to leadership. 

The program gives families and spouses an increased awareness of installation and community benefits, enhances the flow of information, provides an increased sense of unit support, and increased family resiliency among other things.

“Seymour is a very special base for key spouses,” Adams said. “The leadership here truly understands how important key spouses are. We are often invited to lunches with distinguished visitors and are offered opportunities like the incentive flight we just had.”

A group of key spouses had the opportunity Oct. 13 to fly in a KC-135R Stratotanker and see an in-air F-15E Strike Eagle refueling.

“The key spouses were picked by their mentors for their hard work and dedication in making the program a success,” said Amy Negron, 4th Force Support Squadron Key Spouse Program coordinator.

The mentors and some key spouses were also invited to a leadership dinner hosted by helping agencies to showcase the services and classes offered on base.

The key spouses use the information they receive from these meetings to help others on base.

“My son was born with a genetic type of cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant,” said Ann Harris. “The first transplant failed and he needed another one. During the second transplant, the key spouses put together a very nice hospital bag with many items to cater to my son, my husband, and myself. They brought coolers full of food and also contacted Retirees on Call to deliver even more food to us.”

Harris explained how cooking and eating isn’t something on a parent’s mind when their critically-ill child is in the hospital for over a month.

“They also provided us with monetary donations to help with parking and gas, because my husband was traveling to the hospital every day after work,” Harris said.

The donations, along with constantly checking up on the family, helped ease the pain and pressure of going through some extremely difficult times, according to Harris.

She said the meals, the key spouses, and everyone who helped were a great blessing to her family and she couldn’t thank them enough.

“Being a key spouse is important to me because it is an avenue to help others. I can’t remember the number of deployments my husband has been on,” said Adams referring to her husband Chief Master Sgt. William Adams, who was previously a combat controller. “I know exactly what it’s like to be home pregnant or with littles while having a deployed spouse. It’s a stressor unique to the military that our families often don’t quite get. I want to be there for our spouses to lean on. I want to be there to encourage them to keep going, and that they can get through this.”