The Airman and Family Readiness Center held training for Joint Team Andrews key spouses last week as part of the Air Force Key Spouse Initiative in support of the Air Force’s commitment and designation of Year of the Air Force Family.
One spouse in attendance was Amy Stewart, wife of Maj. Matthew Stewart, 1st Airlift Squadron pilot.

‘‘I’ve been a Key Spouse for three years and I love what I do in trying to make a difference in my fellow spouses’ lives,” said Ms. Stewart.

The 1 AS has a high operations tempo, in which the Active Duty spouse is often away from home fulfilling missions in support of the Top 5, including the first lady, vice president, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, secretary of state and secretary of defense.

Ms. Stewart said the training received at the A&FRC proved to be very beneficial.

‘‘I had an opportunity to meet and network with spouses whose partners are deployed fairly regularly,” she said. ‘‘Though our Active Duty spouses in the 1 AS are not deployed with the frequency of other organizations, they are gone quite a bit when they are fulfilling the mission worldwide. So, we were able to share stories and experiences.”

During the training, spouses learned about deployments and missions of Team Andrews organizations, including the security forces and medical squadrons. They also learned about scholarships and employment opportunities available to them.

Ms. Stewart said one of the benefits of being a squadron’s Key Spouse is the opportunity to meet other spouses in your squadron and the closeness that evolves as a result – something which can be difficult in the National Capital Region since we can live anywhere in Maryland, D.C. or Virginia.

‘‘When you marry into the military, you marry into the military family, but when you are a Key Spouse and active in your squadron, you take it to a whole different level. You become family to so many spouses in your squadron and are all tight-knit, especially when our families are far away,” she said.

Ms. Stewart said the best thing about being a Key Spouse is making a difference. ‘‘As a Key Spouse you help open lines of communication between the commander, the squadron and the spouses – it just helps things run more smoothly and gets people together,” she said.

The Active Duty military members are appreciative of the Key Spouse efforts. ‘‘We’ve heard feedback from the Active Duty spouses how we, as Key Spouses, make their transition to Andrews more friendly and welcoming. That’s what we’re here for.”

The Key Spouse program is a formal commander and first sergeant program in the squadrons to provide informational support, said Master Sgt. Erika Perrin, 316th Force Support Squadron A&FRC NCO.

‘‘The Key Spouse program provides a viable means of sharing information – whether at the base level or at the squadron level – with their fellow spouses,” said Sergeant Perrin. ‘‘The Key Spouse program is important because it helps ensure family readiness – something that’s essential to mission readiness. Our Active Duty military members getting ready for a temporary duty or deployment can’t focus on the mission and be mission-ready if their minds and attentions are focused elsewhere.”

For more information on the Key Spouse Program, call 301-981-7087.