Fairchild key spouses seek to improve military life
By Airman 1st Class Jesenia Landaverde, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 05, 2018
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Three, two, one… a timer goes off. A group of nearly 20 key spouses shift seats to their next one-on-one discussion to determine a course of action for possible scenarios that spouses of service members may experience.
The Fairchild Key Spouse Program hosted a conference for unit leadership and key spouses to share military family support service resources and to build partnerships within the military community Aug. 30.
“We are using the collective experiences of leadership at Fairchild to strengthen the Key Spouse Program,” said Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “The conference provides key spouses with necessary tools they can use in their squadrons to enhance resiliency of our Airmen and provide better care for their families in support of the mission.”
Key spouses participated in circle discussions with leadership while resolving crisis scenarios as a group, and “speed-spousing ,” a timed interactive one-on-one discussion on strategic ways to improve spouse assistance, during the four-hour conference.
“These are difficult but real scenarios,” said Kris Salmi, 92nd ARW key spouse advisor. “Leadership face these common scenarios with spouses and families that can range from a death notification getting out without going through official channels to a financially-struggling spouse. During the discussions, we determine what the plan of action should be, how we can work with the spouse mentor and commander, and what base helping agency would be referred.”
There are more than 70 key spouses at Fairchild who are trained to know all services offered across the installation for Airmen and their families, to include continuing education, finances, counseling, child care, parenting programs and many more.
“This is not a social program,” Mrs. Salmi said. “This is an official and confidential program designed to support spouses and their families during deployments, [Temporary Duty] and help them connect to different resources offered around base.”
Key spouses are appointed and trained to serve as a conduit for spouses on behalf of the unit commander. Before they take on this role, spouses are thoroughly trained in communication, generational diversity, deployments, disaster preparedness, resilience, Privacy Identifiable Information and Privacy Act Information of 1947, suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention, social media, operations and cyber security.
“The Key Spouse program will look different across the Air Force,” said Kris Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing key spouse advisor. “It begins with commanders setting the vision for what they want the program to look like. Then, it’s the role of the key spouse to be the conduit and lend their support to spouses and their families.”
The Air Force left a lot of leeway on how to best coordinate the Key Spouse Program and reach out to spouses and families.
“Not one person has the answer to the program, but we can come together and share those practices and strengthen our programs around the wing,” Mrs. Salmi said. “This conference is designed for us to share practices and bounce ideas off each other in a friendly and safe environment.”
Every day Airmen and their families are asked to make sacrifices to ensure the success of the mission. Key spouses are committed to fostering an environment of trust and professionalism to enhance Airmen and families’ lives during difficult times, increasing full spectrum readiness and resilience.
For more information about the program or assistance, contact Julie Bergman, Airman & Family Readiness Center key spouse mentor at (509) 247-2246 or email at Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.