By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Force Support Squadron hosted a luncheon at the DISH dining facility for the Schriever key spouses and mentors to discuss ways to assist Airmen and their spouses here.
Key spouses exist to take care of spouses and Airmen by providing them with support and resources. Every quarter, key spouses meet with their unit’s first sergeant and commander to discuss Airmen and their families’ concerns and then take that back to other spouses across the installation.
Mel Castile, 50th FSS personal and work-life/employment specialist and key spouse coordinator, organized the event which he plans to hold quarterly.
“Hosting events like these can make our families and the Air Force community more knowledgeable of services that are available, thus making them more effective,” he said.
To join the program, spouses must be eager to assist Airmen and their families. From there, they can talk to their unit’s commander about filling the role. Once they earn the position, the spouse will go to the A&FRC for training.
“Key spouses are the liaison between the commander and the spouses,” said Kathy Cipolla, 50th FSS key spouse mentor. “We are a conduit of information and communication to the entire command team.”
Additionally, Cipolla is scheduled to represent Schriever key spouses during the Air Force Awards banquet Feb. 27.
Kristy Smith, 50th Space Wing key spouse mentor, also attended the luncheon. As a key spouse mentor, her role is to provide mentorship to other key spouses and find ways to innovate and grow the program on Schriever.
“The key spouse program is important because you have dedicated individuals who want to help our military families with information and referrals,” she said. “The program is there for family support.”
The spouses who attended the luncheon participated in resilience exercises and learned about education opportunities and financial aid available to spouses and Airmen.
“It’s important to know what resources are available wherever you move,” Smith said. “What you may not have needed on one base, you may need at another. By participating in events like this, you’re able to be made aware of some of those resources.”
Since the majority of Airmen who work on Schriever live off base, it can be difficult to get all the key spouses together. This is why the AFRC plans to host these luncheons in the Colorado Springs area.
“If we meet more and train more, we’ll be able to do more for our Schriever Air Force Base community,” Castile said. “We can get higher participation [among key spouses] and grow stronger as a team.”
Key spouses are trained year-round to include suicide prevention and operational security training. Additionally, they can request extra training they believe can be beneficial to the units they’re assigned.
“The key spouse program is an essential program that often gets overlooked,” Cipolla said. “I’m hoping people invest themselves in the program more because of how beneficial it is for units, [spouses] and the base. We’re here to help.”
Key spouses can be identified by asking the unit’s commander or first sergeant. However, during unit events, key spouses will wear shirts that identify them.