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Key Spouses extend a hand to community

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – During a difficult time like this, with the uncertainty of stop-movement orders and some military members deployed for longer than anticipated, Hanscom’s network of key spouses is playing an increasingly important role.

As operations continually adapt in response to COVID-19, Key Spouses serve as a conduit of information and advocates for unit family members.

“The program has a profound impact on our military networks and is vital to building a strong Air Force community,” said Nicolle Ellsworth, 66th Air Base Group key spouse mentor. “Information has been changing rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s paramount that we disseminate the correct information to keep families informed and connected.”

Appointed by the unit commander, Key Spouses serve as more than just a liaison between unit leadership and families. They’re charged with assisting newcomers and their families, elevating concerns to squadron leaders, organizing events and supporting families of deployed service members. 

“Our squadron has quite a few deployed members, some of whom have been gone well past their original return date because of the ongoing stop movement of our troops,” said Heather Turner, 66th Security Forces Squadron key spouse. “It’s imperative that we stay connected to those families and address any concerns they may have.”

Key Spouses have recently organized meal train services for a family in the community and assisted in coordinating volunteers to create cloth face coverings.

“We’re here to help the families within our organizations, even if it’s just to be a listening ear who can relate to the stressors of military life,” said Capt. Melissa VonOhlen, Aerospace Management Systems Division key spouse.

Members are encouraged to reach out to their Key Spouses, who continuously work to connect members of their unit to the right people or resources to address whatever questions or concerns there may be.

“Our job is to point people in the right direction, and work to find resolutions to their problems,” said Peter Keane, 66th Medical Squadron key spouse. “We may not have all the answers, but we can help find them.”

At Hanscom, more than 13 volunteers serve as key spouses and mentors in the program. Key spouse mentors support the spouses through their experience, encouragement and advocacy for the program. Members of the program agree that their passion is in helping their units.

“I personally want our squadron to feel like an extended family,” said Turner. “Key spouses volunteer because we care about our squadron. We want to provide support and make lasting friendships along the way.”

Reach out to organizational leaders for information on individual key spouses