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Dyess Air Force Base Key Spouse program offers support to families of those deployed

Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:52:50 AM CST   Updated On: Aug 21 2013 05:51:00 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

How would you handle not being able to see your spouse for months on end? That's a reality for millions of military spouses but there are services that can help.

More than 180 airmen from units from the 317th at Dyess Air Force base are deploying in September for several months.

While they fight for freedom, who fights for the ones left behind?

Military spouse Jennifer Garbrick volunteers her time for the Key Spouse program - the proactive, peer-to-peer program whose mission is to support families.

"I think of a deployment kind of like a haunted house," Garbrick said. "There's so much anticipation building up to the deployment and you never know what's lurking around the next corner."

Key Spouses plan activities that give families something to look forward to.

"That deployment gets so long and you never know if somebody could be having a hard time and that activity could just really help them out," Garbrick said.

Key Spouses also check in on families by keeping communication lines open.

"It's a great feeling to know you can call any one of your key spouses at any time and they're right next to you," Garbrick said.

Key Spouse Coordinator MSgt John Miles said his job is all about support.

"You know they [families] feel isolated enough when their active duty member has left," Miles said. "They feel like they're on their own so if you have a means of communication with them and let them know, 'Hey, we haven't forgotten about you, we know you're there, we're here to support you.'"

Garbrick said ultimately, the Key Spouse program allows the deployed service member to focus on their mission and know their families are being taken care of.

The Key Spouse program is not just for deployments; it's an on-going program that serves spouses at at all times.

It started with the Navy and was tested by the Air Force in the late 1990s.

It became a standardized program for the Air Force in 2009.

Dyess Air Force base currently has 99 Key Spouses.