By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Key Spouse program awarded Krystal Harris as the 2012 Key Spouse of the Year April 15.
The Key Spouse program is an Air Force-wide volunteer program standardized in 2009 with the purpose of providing access to resources, programs and information for military spouses and family members, said Michael McGrady, the Key Spouse program manager at Peterson.
Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander, along with his wife Kayreen Crawford and Chief Master Sgt. Richard Redman, 21st SW command chief, presented the award to Harris.
“I want to do this. I want to help people that are dealing with the same problems I did,” Harris said. “Receiving this award is an honor but the true satisfaction comes with helping our Air Force family remain resilient, flexible and ‘together’ by providing this incredible support system.”
Harris was given the honor during a luncheon ceremony April 15 at The Club before an audience of fellow key spouse volunteers and mentors.
This humbling gesture reinforces the vital role the Key Spouse program plays in unit readiness and quality of life for military families. The wellbeing and preparation of the spouses, children and family members that remain behind when Airmen are forward deployed, is the backbone of maintaining the readiness of any effective combat force.
Once a commander has appointed a key spouse for a unit, they undergo Key Spouse, Heartlink and suicide awareness training through the Airmen and Family Readiness Center.
Harris, a Denver native, is the Key Spouse volunteer for the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron. Her first experience with the key spouse program was at Patrick AFB, Fla., during one of her husband’s first deployments. “It can be very overwhelming for a new military spouse with children and a deployed husband, Harris admitted.
As a military spouse, Harris has the knowledge and experience to assist others when dealing with many of these family related issues, everything from relocation to a new base assignment, deployments and the daily responsibilities of running a household.
Harris is the wife of Master Sgt. Dwayne Harris, an active duty firefighter and the mother of 14-year-old twins. In addition to her time spent as a Key Spouse volunteer she is also active in many other parts of the community, currently serving on both the Parent Teacher Association and School Accountability Committee for a local middle school.
As a certified nursing assistant with years of experience in the medical field, Harris has a core desire to help those in need of assistance. She also understands what it is like to be new to the area and be unfamiliar with base support resources or who to contact when a military related issue arises.
Having a caring support group with knowledgeable and experienced volunteers who are military spouses themselves is an invaluable resource for those needing assistance.
Every military spouse at some point will have to deal with these issues, and the greatest resource for them is another caring spouse with tools and training to help them along the way.
“I am absolutely blessed to be working with such a great team here at Peterson,” Harris said. “Even if the key spouse program did not exist I would still be doing this kind of work with people because it’s vital in maintaining a healthy and enjoyable environment for all of our Air Force families here at Peterson.”
For information about the Key Spouse program contact McGrady at the A&FRC at 556-6141.