Key Spouses Care for Deployed Service Members, Families

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shelby Thurman
  • 908th Airlift Wing

(Editor’s Note: This is the 3rd article of a 5 part series on 908th Airlift Wing Key Spouses)

Sarah Darden is the 908th Maintenance Squadron Key Spouse. As a Key Spouse, she assists Key Spouse Mentor, Tina Harstad, with distributing information about events and other opportunities that may appeal to service members and their families. Most of the events she coordinates are geared towards writing letters or creating care packages for those who are currently deployed.

“It’s important for the deployed members to feel remembered while also including their loved ones,” said Darden.

She elaborated by adding that her efforts are all for the purpose of being approachable and familiar to the 908th community and their families year-round.

Darden has been a Key Spouse for three years. She was the 908th Airlift Wing Key Spouse of Year for 2016. Before these accomplishments, she worked with an active duty squadron for multiple years.

“I believe there should be effective communication and opportunities shared with reserve members and their families throughout the year and not just before or during a deployment,” said Darden.

She said her desire to take care of families is why she is always trying to share upcoming opportunities for the unit’s members through the unit’s social media pages as well as through one-on-one communications.

Darden wanted to become a Key Spouse because she felt that every unit should have one.

“Whether you’re a new Airman to the 908th or a young spouse, there can be questions on how to navigate the River Region areas and the installation,” said Darden. “Key Spouses are a vital resource in their own rights for service members or their family to reach out to if they need assistance.”

Even though Darden does not see herself as being in a servant leadership position, she takes her role very seriously because of those she is choosing to serve.

During the coronavirus pandemic, she has taken extra efforts to share relevant information about base events, activity closures and other opportunities, she said.

“I hope that a 908th member or a relative would be comfortable reaching out to me for assistance if there was a need,” said Darden. “While I might not know the answer to every question, the Key Spouse members allow me a chance to find the correct response.”

Darden is married to Tech. Sgt. Erik Darden of the 908th MXS. Darden became aware of the Key Spouse Program through her mother, a Civil Service employee for over 30 years. When her husband was active duty, her mother was the commander’s secretary. Both were instrumental in pushing her to becoming a Key Spouse, she said. The Montgomery-native and her husband live in Prattville, Alabama with their 12-year-old daughter and 1-year-old twins.

She highly recommends that those interested in becoming more involved with the unit and community should look into becoming a Key Spouse. She added that their current members are a melting pot of personalities and backgrounds. She said the diversity of their members and what they bring to the table has made the program great and looks forward to more joining.

“As someone who works full time and has three children, Key Spouses have allowed me to bring my daughters to meetings with open arms,” said Darden. “We are always looking for spouses, siblings and parents of unit members who have the same goal in mind in providing service members support.”

If interested in becoming a Key Spouse volunteer, contact 908th Airlift Wing Key Spouse Mentor, Tina Harstad, at