I have been a Key Volunteer for as long as I can remember. I know that some folks aren't particularly fond of the Network and I can understand why. With the wrong person volunteering for the wrong reason, it can be a nightmare. There is a certain personality type that does not suit the goals of a Key Volunteer Network (KVN). They are better suited running a small country in South America. I freely admit this.
That said, with the right people volunteering for the right reason, the KVN can be a force of nature.
If you are unsure about wanting to volunteer as KV, I encourage you to just take the training. It's pretty informative and the trainers are good about making it interesting. Childcare is paid for too. You're not committed to volunteering by taking the training. I retook all the KV training out at Pendleton a couple of years ago. The local resources guide was every Pendleton KV"s deployment buddy. That guide was a godsend!!!!
I hope that after the training, you choose to volunteer. Being informed and involved, especially during a deployment, is one of the best ways to stay busy and sane when your spouse is gone. There's that added bonus of helping other spouses get through a deployment too.
The responsibilities of a KV are as follows: welcome incoming members and their families, participate in a phone tree as directed, maintain a family readiness roster of information, provide information and referral services to families, provide the CO via the Key Volunteer coordinator(KVC), with information and feedback regarding family readiness issues, offer information and referral assistance to families during crisis or difficulty, and assist the KVC as directed (for example, helping with the newsletter). This is a complicated way of saying that you will be assigned a number of families, usually 8 or so, and you make sure that their contact information is correct and you call or email them with the latest, updated information from the unit.
The most important rule of the KVN is confidentiality. Protecting the privacy of a family is very important. We can all understand why. That said, whenever I had a family with a problem, I knew that I could go to the KVC, the Family Readiness Officer, the Chaplain, or even the trainers at the Family Team Building office. I could call any of them, and without mentioning a name or anything else that might identify the family involved, I could get good, solid advice and assistance. You do not go it alone. Ever.
I think I have stuck with the KVN for so long because of the people I get to work with. Funny, smart, compassionate people. They all end up being part of your friends/support group.
Our KV meetings were so much fun that we finally had to institute a rule that we would take care of business FIRST and then we'd have snacks and social hour AFTER. To be clear, the KVN is not a social or a gossip club. In our situation, we just all really enjoyed getting together but we did make sure to address business first. My old KV trainers are probably ripping out their hair but I think if you work hard, you get to play hard too.
If you don't choose to volunteer, that's okay too. Not everybody wants to and many don't have the time to volunteer. Do make sure that you know who your Key Volunteer is and have her phone number handy. If you haven't heard from a Key Volunteer at all, contact the Family Readiness officer for your unit and let them know.
I can't lie and say that there aren't hard times during deployments, there are going to be some hard times. What's nice is that you don't have to go through hard times alone. Whether you are a Key Volunteer or a spouse in need, it is all there for you: shoulders to lean on, ears to bend, and helping hands.