HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Members of Team Holloman’s Key Spouse program were recognized by 49th Wing leadership during a social training event at the Airman and Family Readiness Center here Feb. 8.
Key spouses are unit-appointed spouses of active-duty military members who act as a liaison between unit leadership, the member, and their families, providing support in myriad forms, especially during deployments and times of transition.
“A key spouse is someone who is looked at as someone people can talk to when they might not be able to talk [directly] to leadership,” said Susan Hunter, the A&FRC Key Spouse program coordinator. “Anyone who’s a spouse of a military member can be a key spouse.”
For instance, say there’s a spouse, and their loved one is deployed, Hunter said. If the car doesn’t start in the morning, some people might be reluctant to call their spouse’s commander. That’s when the key spouse is an important asset -- someone they can call to get the help they need. The key spouse contacts the unit on their behalf, providing a “buffer” of sorts between that person and their spouse’s commander.
“Key spouses provide information and referral sources,” said Hunter, who spent almost 24 years on active duty herself, and started the Key Spouse program here in 1999, when she separated and began working at the A&FRC.
If someone needs help, the unit commander, first sergeant, or one of the 72 key spouses here can “dispatch” someone to go assist.
“Organizations have lists of things people in the unit can do, from mowing lawns to looking at cars,” said Hunter.
For the military member, knowing their family is in good hands and will receive help in time of need can be a huge stress reliever, allowing them to focus on the mission downrange, she said.
“I think it helps with morale in my husband’s shop because they know they can call me if they need to,” said Tina Keene, whose husband, Master Sgt. Daniel Keene, works in the 49th Logistics Readiness Squadron here.
Keene, who has been a key spouse at Holloman for three years, has been a key spouse at previous bases as well, totaling nine years in this important role.
“I felt since we’d been in so long, we could lend a helping hand and at least be an ear to people,” Keene said.
In her role as a key spouse, she’s taken phone calls at all hours of the day and night, baby sat, driven people to medical appointments, fixed meals, and seen marriages and families helped in the process, she said.
All of her work was highlighted recently at the Feb. 3 Annual Awards banquet here, where Keene was named the Team Holloman Key Spouse of the Year.
Col. David Krumm, 49th Wing commander, coined Keene at the Key Spouses program training and social event, thanking her and the other key spouses for all they do to help Airmen and their families. Sometimes, it’s the things those key spouses do that keep them going, he said.
“Being in the military is a commitment from everyone involved,” he said. “It’snot just the airman -- his or her family is ‘all in’ too.”
“It’s a huge satisfaction,” Keene said. “It makes me feel great to know I am in the right place at the right time, that people feel comfortable enough to talk to me, and that they can open up to me and call me at two in the morning if that’s what they need to do. I feel really blessed by God to be able to be in this position.”