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A resource of resources, Key Spouses point the way

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Key Spouses take part in their mandatory 12-hour initial training that prepares them to be a one stop resource shop for military families on Peterson Air Force Base. The training provides information on what resources are available to meet a variety of needs as well as intense training on the Privacy Act. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Key Spouses take part in their mandatory 12-hour initial training that prepares them to be a one stop resource shop for military families on Peterson Air Force Base. The training provides information on what resources are available to meet a variety of needs as well as intense training on the Privacy Act. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Transitioning to a new location can be overwhelming in many ways, especially when it comes to finding the resources one needs to set up house, financial details and other situations.

The Key Spouses program exists to be a resource for all base resources, said Nona Daugherty, Key Spouse program manager with the Airman & Family Readiness Center. In a nutshell, the program exists to assist the families of Airmen who need to find a resource, but don't know where to look.

"We need to get the word out that this is not a club. It's kind of like a first sergeant for spouses," Daugherty said.

Many spouses do not know what resources are available, something she said is pretty common. Spouses also do not usually know they can access job listings and get help with resumes through resources tailored specifically to military spouses.

"We can help with pregnancy, finance-related things too, anything family or spouse related," Daugherty said.

Key Spouses can help during times of deployment or separation. Daugherty said there are things like free oil changes and free childcare or even counseling if one is feeling lonely or overwhelmed.

"A lot of times spouses do not know where to go for resources," she said. 

Keeping spouses informed of information outside of unit-related business is one of the biggest services Key Spouses can give. Base-related resources and awareness of benefits like classes are other resources a Key Spouse can provide.

"It allows spouses to be more resilient and to take care of things for themselves," Daugherty said. "(We) can be one point of contact instead of, 'where do I go?'"

Key Spouses also serve as a link between families and leadership. For example, if there is a problem, concern or trend, a Key Spouse can pass it on to leadership and keep it private. If there are a lot of the same issues coming up, commanders can address them. 

Key Spouses are appointed by commanders. Each of them receives about 12 hours of mandatory training to start, with an intense focus on the Privacy Act. After that there is continued training at least on a quarterly basis. Each Key Spouse is an official representative of the unit. 

"With that training they are learning about resources out there for our role as a basic information and resources center," Daugherty said. "We are trying to keep spouses in the loop."

The hope is to try and contact families as they transition to Peterson AFB, but that doesn't always work out. Sometimes contact information doesn't get passed down from the active-duty spouse. Other times a misconception of the Key Spouse program as a club, which also presents a challenge in getting contact information for families.

"It's not that Key Spouses don't want to contact them, but it's hard to get contact information," said Daugherty. Sometimes information is gathered at in-processing, but not always. She said some units are working to facilitate getting contacts to Key Spouses and there are information tables at various fairs.

The efforts are working too. She said Key Spouses get about eight names a month now, which is a significant increase over recent months. Key Spouses are at unit events and other regular things like the deployed families dinner in order to connect with families and spouses.

For anyone interested in becoming a Key Spouse, there are some skills that would be favorable Daugherty said. People skills are important because of the varied personalities one deals with, and being a good listener would serve well. A strong ability to keep confidence is critical.

To connect with the appropriate Key Spouse,  please contact the unit first sergeant or Daugherty at 719-556-9264.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui