JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
It can be difficult for military families when they move to a new base and Key Spouses provide assistance to arriving families so transitioning and settling into the new area are as easy as possible.
A Key Spouse here is a person who has to be trained at the 628th Force Support Squadron Military Family Readiness Center to better help families with tasks like changing schools and care programs for children, as well as finding proper employment for spouses.
“When somebody becomes a Key Spouse for the first time, they will come here and conduct a six-hour initial training about the basics of being a Key Spouse,” said Master Sgt. David Tagliaferro, 628th FSS MFRC superintendent. “We also meet quarterly so they can continue being on top of Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency, Sexual Assault Prevention Response and Suicide Prevention training.”
The Key Spouse Program has been around since 1997, when it was originally implemented from the Navy Ombudsmen Program. Since then, the program has grown and been revamped to what it is today. The Ombudsmen and Key Spouse programs have started to work and collaborate to better help and interact with the military members and their families here.
“Our main goal is for our Ombudsmen and Key Spouses to be liaisons and advocates between leadership and their families,” said Robin Washington, 628th FSS MFRC Ombudsmen coordinator. “Doing this helps them raise morale and assists with possible concerns within the unit.”
Major General Sam Barrett, 18th Air Force commander, and his wife, Kelly—a Key Spouse herself—visited the base Feb. 11-14, 2019. Barrett, his wife and staff interacted with several units and mission partners on base to see how missions and programs here operate and coexist.
“Watching how the three wings interact with each other and their Navy partners shows just how important it is to get as involved as possible,” said Mrs. Barrett. “It’s our job as Key Spouses to listen to our Airmen and Sailor’s stories and to make sure they’re valued and not alone.”
The Navy Ombudsmen and Air Force Key Spouse programs have started a new initiative to better conjoin the two programs here. The members from both programs are scheduled to meet quarterly to discuss local events and concerns for all of Joint Base Charleston.
“This symposium was an idea I came up with last year to be able to help Air Force or Navy spouses, regardless of what side of the base they come to,” said Washington. “This is something we’ve never done before and I am proud of how far we’ve come, but I am happy to see how far we can go.”
The Key Spouse program promotes individual, family and unit readiness. Their goal is to increase resiliency unit cohesion amongst military members and their families throughout their military careers.
“I want people to know these programs are here to help and break the common stigmas of Key Spouses,” said Mrs. Barrett. “We are here to serve our Airmen, whatever they may need and we will take the time to reach out and help as best as we can.”
To find your Key Spouse mentor, contact Master Sgt. David Tagliaferro, Air Base MFRC, at 843-963-5630, or your first sergeant. To find your Ombudsman mentor, contact Robin Washington at the Naval Weapons Station MFRC, at 843-794-7480, or go to www.ombudsmanregistry.org.