Key spouses bring resources to Reserve families
By Senior Airman Mary Begy, 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affaris
/ Published June 03, 2021
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 507th Airman and Family Readiness Center here conducted a seminar for the 507th Air Refueling Wing’s key spouses May 15, 2021.
The workshop offered an opportunity for current key spouses to meet, network and discuss how the program can grow, according to 507th A&FRC director, Sharon Lochman.
“Since everyone is already trained on the program, we spent this time learning about each other and about other opportunities,” said Lochman. “We also did some brainstorming on how we can increase communication, market the program and advertise resources and future meetings to continue the momentum.”
Key spouses are an integral part of all Reserve units because they promote communication between leadership and families and ultimately build resilience and a sense of community, regardless of where Reservists may live.
“Key spouses attend commanders' calls and squadron events to connect with new members and families to maintain regular contact to help share information regarding base, wing, unit and community events,” Lochman said. “The spouses also work with our office to provide information to families during difficult situations, assist with squadron events and coordinate support for deployed members returning home.”
At the event, key spouses received briefings on the missions of both the 507th ARW and 513th Air Control Group, as well as a brief from a Military One Source representative on services available to them.
“In the past, key spouses have been mostly deployment support, but with our ongoing operations tempo, world events and the need for more connectivity with our personnel, the goal is to move beyond that role and serve as a conduit between commanders, helping agencies and the families of our service members,” Lochman said. “Family involvement and interaction promotes retention and resiliency and we want to ensure they know that we are here for them.”
With increased communication and trust, key spouses are in a better position to provide assistance and resources to families.
“We want to equip our key spouses with the tools to prevent unexpected hardships and never miss out on available resources,” Lochman said. “Relaying information, resources and events to the key spouse team at networking events like this enables them to put these resources to use in their unit.”
Spouses who attended the event also discussed the importance of having key spouses in each unit, according to Ali Parks, the 507th ARW key spouse and wife of Col. Michael Parks, 507th ARW commander.
“Having seen the difference a key spouse can make, there is not a more rewarding and important position that directly gives back to families or that builds upon our Reserve sense of community and belonging,” Parks said. “Key spouses do pass along information to families, but more importantly, they listen and talk to our families when they need to lend a sympathetic ear or to hear a familiar voice.”
The 507th A&FRC is currently expanding the Okie key spouse team, according to Lochman.
“We are always looking for volunteers to add to our key spouse team,” Lochman said. “Having a bigger group helps give unit family members more contacts when they need them the most.”
To get started as a key spouse, contact the A&FRC at 405-734-6278 for more information.