Key spouses thank you for keeping it R.E.A.L. too

  • Published
  • By Mark C. Overton
  • Spouse of 36th Wing Command Chief Margarita Overton
Did you know that President Obama proclaimed November as Military Family Month and the first lady, Michelle Obama, has sought to provide more support for military families? You're also aware that the Air Force designated July 2009 through July 2010 as "Year of the Air Force Family" and that "Taking Care of Airmen and their families" is one of our Air Force's highest priorities. Additionally, there is a highly read blog by and for military spouses called "SpouseBuzz." These public initiatives stress that military spouses continue to play a pivotal role in shaping our community. Am I right about it? To show unity of purpose with my wife's perspective of "Keeping it R.E.A.L," I want to share with you that military spouses keep it R.E.A.L. too, helping to take care of our Airmen and their families.

Let's talk first about the letter "R," which indicates our "voluntary versus mandated" ROLE as a key spouse, which is to help our active duty leadership take care of Airmen and their families and our community as a whole. As a retired chief master sergeant myself, being a military spouse is a new role for me. I've learned we're more than the tagline or misconception of being a "social diva," a member of the "Anderson Housewives' Club" or wearing our spouses' rank when interacting with others. Our ROLE as a key spouse accompanies our spouses' duty position and we gladly contribute the most we can to fulfill this role; helping to take care of our Airmen and their families. As Janette Doucette, spouse of 36th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. John Doucette emphasized, "We help build a community to make it better than we found it, making it a home away from home to those that are stationed here."

The next letter "E" is for being ENGAGED. We're engaged through volunteering, being a visible representative at events and functions, mentoring, knowing the issues, giving back, etc. We set the right example of teamwork and wingman family support when we, both officer and enlisted, show continual presence during formal and informal events and functions. Through this engagement we can make things happen!

The letter "A," is for AVAILABILITY. Whether outreach is through the Web, e-mail, spouses' meetings, volunteering at Andersen's facilities, surveys, or out-and-about visits, we're visible and active. Though we may be behind the scenes at times, key spouses bridge the communications gap with families to inform, support or refer them as needed. Additionally, we advise, mentor, volunteer, support, sacrifice and serve upfront, increasing awareness of installation and community resources.

This means that we've come to our last letter, "L" which is for LEARNING and LINK. The more we know, the more we can help, becoming partners in bettering the lives of our Airmen and their families.

We can get involved with base spouse groups and key spouses, whom are the face of unit leadership to families. We can attend the Spouse Newcomer's Orientation, Initial Key Spouse Training, and Heart Link Orientation. Thank you to the Airman and Family Readiness Center for helping families address a wide range of concerns and needs, and the training of our key spouses. This training gives us the resources and skills needed to succeed in our volunteer role. Continuous learning will enable us to be a better link, connecting senior leadership with Airmen and their families. First Sergeants are also an important team member of the unit, they are engaged at the local level, linking unit leadership and key spouses to stay attuned to the concerns and needs of Airmen and their families, whether separated or on the homefront.

We owe the security and freedom that we enjoy to the members of our armed forces and their families. Key spouses: are you comfortable in your Role? Are you continuously Engaged and Available? Are you still Learning and Linked? Thank you sincerely for being R.E.A.L!