Key Spouse symposium: Networking, inspiring, supporting
By Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee, 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 12, 2018
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- RAF MILDENHALL, England-- A Key Spouses symposium, hosted to network, inspire and support all of the spouses throughout England, was held by Team Mildenhall Key Spouses here on Oct. 4.
The Key Spouses organization brings an opportunity for leadership and spouses to bridge the gap between dependents and leadership, as well as Airmen.
“I’ve been a part of the Key Spouses organization for two years, and even though the bases change, the foundation the Key Spouses are built on do not,” said Abby Izor, 100th Maintenance Squadron Key Spouse. “It is about connecting and serving others. I learned how essential it is to connect with others as well as the feeling of being connected. When you are there for a spouse, you are supporting that Airman and letting them know that their family will be okay even when they’re gone.”
Nearly 100 spouses attended the third annual Key Spouses Symposium; they shared ideas and strategies that worked for their units and discussed steps to support their units more effectively.
“You get a sense of pride working with the other spouses and you get to listen and learn about how much of an impact we really are making throughout all of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe,” Izor said. “Every squadron is different with their own unique problems, and that’s one of the biggest benefits of this symposium. We meet other spouses representing the same squadrons and we get to hear new ideas from people in our same realm, with our same problems.”
One of Key Spouse’s biggest role is to be knowledgeable; they are the one-stop-shop for all base wide information that a new family would need to know. Their goal is to be the community and support for the incoming families.
“Being overseas, there is a myriad of unique issues incoming families aren’t aware of or even prepared for, so the organization is the bridge between leadership and incoming families,” said Cathy Amrhein, 100th Air Refueling Wing Key Spouse Mentor. “We help with permanent change of station issues, exceptional family member program, school liaison, and general family support whether financial or spiritual.”
The spouses go through many training programs before getting the title of ‘Key Spouse’ for their respective squadron. Courses include initial training, resiliency training, and a course from the Airman and Family Readiness Center. All of these training programs are geared to give spouses confidence in their newly learned skills in providing for others, and to help families whenever needed.
“The goal for Key Spouses is to be reachable and accessible,” Suzi Smith, 352nd Special Operations Wing Key Spouse Mentor. “When Airmen have problems, their families have problems and vice versa. We inform their leadership of any big issues within their home life and they inform us so that we can be there in any way that family needs us to be.”
Key Spouses have a huge role within their squadron, said Laura Crosson, 67th Special Operation Squadron Key Spouse.
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned since being a Key Spouse is also one of the biggest benefits and that’s community,” Crosson said.