The Key Spouse Program

  • Published
  • By Col. Dave Johnston, 144th Mission Support Group Commander
  • 144th Fighter Wing

The 144th Fighter Wing has a long history of being a premier Air Dominance and Air Sovereignty organization. You are a part of an organization that literally pioneered the 24/7 alert mission when this Wing was part of a “classified” experiment, which included only one other wing within the nation. You are all forever a part of this legacy. In addition to the Airmen who have served at our Wing, there are others who are equally a part of that legacy; these others are your families.

Consider what you’ve given to our nation’s and state’s defense: your time, your skills, a willingness to serve anywhere at any time, and so many other sacrifices. Yet for all of us, we cannot serve unless our families also agree to make sacrifices and support our service. When we deploy, leave for exercises, attend trainings or professional courses, or even work revolving shifts at home station, we rely totally on our families to keep the household strong and together. It is challenging. I know firsthand because my wife has voiced this every time I’ve gone away. It’s not easy. In fact, I would argue that we often have an easier time while deployed than the family we leave behind.

So, what can we do to make it less challenging for them? The Key Spouse Program can provide the answer.

The Key Spouse Program is one of our best tools in our toolbox to support families and deployed members. It is a unit commander’s program, and it allows spouses, family members, and military retirees to have an active role in our organization. They become a part of your squadron (or flight) and they serve as a resource to support the families within the squadron. The KSP volunteers directly connect families to First Sergeants, supervisors, and commanders. Their contributions can be invaluable, particularly during times of separation. The program, when executed effectively, will minimize stresses, help families overcome challenges that crop up while you are gone, and provide an on-going, positive connection to the unit during this aspect of the military lifestyle.

Now, I said “executed effectively” because this is often a challenge for an Air National Guard unit. We know we aren’t as resourced as an active duty Air Force base: we don’t have base housing, we don’t have an Airman’s Attic, and the majority of us are a part-time force with many Airman and families who live several hours away from the base. These are challenges that our Key Spouse Program must overcome so that you and your families can be supported to the greatest extent possible.

So, this is a request that I have for you: If you have a spouse, a family member, or know a retiree who is dynamic, outgoing, and wants to directly contribute to our organization, please speak to them about the Key Spouse Program. It’s an opportunity to become a part of the squadron and to support our Airmen and their families. If someone is interested and enthusiastic about being a KSP volunteer, please talk with your leadership team. That’s all you need to do to get it started!

This is an incredible program that can really make a difference for your family, you, your wingmen, and your wingmen’s families. This program is directly connected to our mission success, too, because when we know our families are supported, we are able to focus on our jobs and the mission. Please consider this opportunity for your loved ones to get involved. If you would like more information about the program, please speak with your First Sergeant or contact our Airmen and Family Readiness Office program manager, Ms. Dorene Vierra.