Key Spouse program keeps 908th family strong,wing mentor says

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sandi Percival
  • 908th Airlift Wing
For many people, all bonds to anything remotely connected to the workplace are cut immediately after the workday ends. It's no different for members of the military, so most significant others aren't familiar with what their spouses go through at work, what their duties are, or what they should do in certain situations.

Because some family members may not understand the first thing about the 908th Airlift Wing, there's a need for some type of program to provide basic information to members' families.

Lori Sims, who took charge of the wing's Key Spouse program during the May UTA, is determined to make sure that need is filled.

"I want everyone to know that this is a family," Sims said. "The key spouse program includes not only spouses, but family members as well. There is information out there that needs to be given to family members, especially if someone's deployed."

The Key Spouse program exists to inform spouses and family members of important events within the wing. Each squadron will have its own Key Spouse and Sims, as the wing mentor, will head the program at the wing level.

Having served alongside Teresa Dearth as a member of HERC, a support group bridging the gap between members of the 908th Maintenance Group and their families, Sims is a familiar face in the 908th. Her husband is Senior Master Sgt. Marshal Sims of the 908th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

With the support of the MXG first sergeant and commander, HERC, which stands for Helping Every Reservist through Contingencies, set out to build a network of spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, and extended family members of deploying reservists.

The HERC booster program was a success even before the Air Force developed the Key Spouse initiative, and still exists. When offered the chance to bring that success to the entire wing, Sims willingly stepped up to take charge of a program for the unit so close to her heart, and so close in purpose to the one she'd helped to build.

The decision was a no-brainer.

"I have a lot of heart for this family and I want to see this continue," she said. "I finally realized that if I didn't do it, there may not be someone out there. "I don't want to see it dissipate."

As a stopgap program, Key Spouses are essential for providing support and valuable information for the families and loved ones of deploying Airmen. From a simple phone call or a house call on a deployed member's family, to ensuring a child is able to greet his or her parent at the terminal, Key Spouse includes all of the 908th family, not just the spouses.

In addition to deployment support, the program also provides a means of ensuring spouses and family members know what their Airman does during UTA weekends and annual tours. Sims said keeping spouses and family members in the loop on promotions and base events, important phone numbers and gate locations ensures the 908th family stays strong, connected and ready to step in and help one another.

What will make Sims a successful wing mentor?

"I'm not a quiet person in this unit," she said. "I want to know things, and I want to make sure everyone else knows."

"I could not have been more excited when I heard that Lori was going to be the wing mentor," said Senior Master Sgt. Martha Roy, who works with the Key Spouse program. "I believe she will take this wing to new heights."