WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
As policies continue to change as a response to COVID-19, communication to family members is vital for building resiliency.
For those who feel left out of the communication loop, there is a group of Whiteman spouses who volunteer to help their respective commanders as part of the Key Spouse Program.
The KSP is a commander-ran program where appointed spouses serve as a liaison between unit leaders and family members.
“The KSP helps promote a cohesive unit, peer-to-peer and wingman support,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gwendolyn West, the 509th Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center readiness non-commissioned officer-in-charge and KSP coordinator. “Through effective communication flow between leadership and unit families, the KSP empowers spouses to create self-sufficient, resilient families and strong Air Force communities.”
The key spouses support their respective units by setting up meal trains for families dealing with medical issues, building baby gift baskets for newborns, organizing potlucks, BBQs and more, according to West.
Amanda Carroll, a 509th Security Forces Squadron key spouse, said the KSP’s purpose is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are a direct line of communication from the commanders to the spouses,” said Carroll. “This is also so important when spouses have questions or need something. We can help them find a resource to help them.”
Communicating to families about evolving changes is important during this pandemic.
A challenge facing families is the military stop movement, as many service members were scheduled to return home from deployments this month. Currently, there is uncertainty of when they will be able return, according West.
“It is especially important right now because we have several deployed and remote affected families that are faced with inevitable challenges that range from childcare issues, to being laid off, to homeschooling,” said West.
As families face challenges stemming from efforts to slow the transmission of COVID-19, the KSP is available to help.
Carroll asks that spouses reach out when there is a question or a need arises.
“When you have a question just reach out to one of your key spouses. We are trained and want to help, but we don’t always know that there is a need if you don’t let us know,” said Carroll. “We are all here to support the families during this time! COVID-19 is something that none of us have dealt with, but together we can be stronger.”
Key spouse support goes beyond helping families, according to West.
“Key spouses are not limited to just helping families,” said West. “They are a powerful group of volunteers eager to assist our service members as well.”
Recently, Whiteman key spouses teamed up with Community Action Team members to build and deliver morale bags to dorm residents to help the Airmen feel supported as they practice social distancing, according to West.
If you have questions about the KSP or need to find out who your squadrons key spouse is, contact your unit first sergeant or call the A&FRC at (660) 687-7132 and ask for the KSP coordinator.