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News > Air Force Key Spouses of the Year honored at forum
Air Force Key Spouses of the Year honored at forum

Posted 7/20/2011   Updated 7/20/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Richard A. Williams Jr.
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

7/20/2011 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Some of the Air Force's outstanding 'Key Spouses' were honored during the service's Caring for People Forum here July 19.

Suzie Schwartz, wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, and Paula Roy, wife of Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Roy, accompanied Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services in recognizing the Key Spouse of the Year from each Major Command for her individual efforts to support Air Force families.

"They do wonderful things at their local installations," Schwartz said at the forum, which runs through July 21. "It makes me so proud to see these Key Spouses sitting here today."

Schwartz said good communication between commanders, commanders' spouses, first sergeants and Key Spouses is important to ensuring the Air Force takes care of its people.

"The Key Spouse is there to provide the tools and information for the programs which support Air Force families," she said.

Since the program's reinvigoration in 2009, the program has made great strides in improving family assistance and the sharing of information, Roy said. The Key Spouse of the Year honor is a testament to each winner's hard work supporting all of the families at her installation.

"These Key Spouses here with us today are not only exceptional individuals in their own right, but they represent the more than 4,000 Key Spouse volunteers who work for their units across our Air Force," Roy said.

Roy also said the Key Spouse program directly supports the Air Force mission.

"These volunteers provide a chain of communication and concern that allows our Airmen to focus on the mission at home and down range," she said.

The Key Spouse program was originally designed to promote family and unit readiness. It establishes continuous contact with spouses and families, and provides links to the unit while strengthening the leadership support team.

"The Key Spouse program is vital to building strong Air Force communities," Roy said.

A Key Spouse volunteer may be the spouse of any Airman regardless of rank, a Department of Defense civilian, or another qualified person connected to the unit. Unit commanders appoint each Key Spouse, and those designated spouses are assigned throughout the chain of command.

Senior officer or enlisted spouses are encouraged to serve as mentors or advisers to junior members.

Installation Airmen and Family Readiness Centers staffs provide initial and update training, and serve as a referral resource for Key Spouses.

Erin M. Allino-Berndsen
United States Air Forces Europe

Allino-Berndsen serves as senior Key Spouse for the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy. She leads a team of five Key Spouses in welcoming, educating and mentoring 247 spouses of assigned Airmen. She created and publicized the 31st CES Spouse network Facebook page connecting 150 spouses, organized the first wing spouse symposium and spearheaded the spouses panel. She also organized Operation Yellow Ribbon events supporting more than 16,000 service members transitioning through Aviano AB in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Angie J. Beumer
Air Force Global Strike Command

Beumer serves as Key Spouse for the 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Minot AFB, N.D. Her leadership provided the care to 560 Airmen and their families and she served as squadron ambassador, welcoming newcomers to the squadron, and ensured the care for 16 spouses during two AFE rotations. Beumer served as an ambassador for squadron newcomers and volunteered to prepare departure-day breakfast for deployers. She was the constant link between squadron command and families, providing last minute deployment return.

Kelly Dourlein
Air Force Reserve Command

Dourlein serves as Key Spouse for the 944th Civil Engineer Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz. Her efforts during Operation Kid at Luke AFB led to 600 telephone calls to children to "report to duty." She organized a "craft day" for deployed members' children as well as a trip for families to Sea World in San Diego, Calif. Dourlein attends numerous family support events such as "Hearts Apart" and deployment family dinners and educates young spouses on military terminology and programs.

Victoria C. Harvey
Air Force District of Washington

Harvey serves as Key Spouse for the 373rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Support Squadron at Misawa AB, Japan. She is the chairman of volunteers for the American Red Cross and a board member for the Hilltop Spouse Group. She created the first Air Force Key Spouse social network profile, improving networking and communication for squadron spouses. She writes newsletters and sends them to more than 100 spouses every month. She designed family-focused welcome letters and packets given to each new spouse.

Savannah L. Hewett
Air Force Material Command

Hewett serves as Key Spouse for the 66th Security Forces Squadron at Hanscom AFB, Mass. She completed the first Hanscom Key Spouse Facebook group page, connecting 20 spouses. She advocated to the commander for spouses to convoy to the airport to meet returning deployers and initiated a security forces squadron's spouse T-shirt to wear around base and to booster club events. She maintained weekly phone and e-mail contacts with deployed spouses, shared critical insight at Air Force Caring for People spouse focus groups hosted by the base and supported multiple charitable organizations.

Perla M. Hopkins
Air Education and Training Command

Hopkins serves as Key Spouse for the 14th Operations Support Squadron at Columbus AFB, Miss. She has delivered support for more than 300 spouses, coordinated gift baskets for geographically separated pregnant spouses, personalized unit farewell gifts for 25 departing families and welcomed home deployed heroes with balloons, posters and videotapes of the return. She provided 80-plus free hours of Spanish tutoring at the local college, volunteered 30 hours with Habitat for Humanity, and currently is involved in a wide variety of wing and local activities.

Sarah Lazarowitz
Air Combat Command

Lazarowitz serves as lead Key Spouse for the 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dyess AFB, Texas. She maintains contact with spouses and families and resolves concerns for 545 active-duty families at Dyess AFB. She served as a focal point for more than 400 family members during deployment, established a learning center and created an extensive squadron library for deployment and military information including DVD resources for spouses. She notified the school liaison officer about class bullying; conducted three food drives for the Dyess food bank, collecting more than 1,250 pounds of food for 43 families; and raised $125,000 for the Jr. League Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Heather Mayheu
Air National Guard

Mayheu serves as lead Key Spouse for the Wyoming Air National Guard's 30th Airlift Squadron in Cheyenne. She provides peer-to-peer support to unit families, serving as a communication link between families and unit leaders by providing information and referral assistance during challenging times, welcoming newcomers and cultivating relationships within the unit. She maintained and provided current community resources, services, and volunteer opportunities. Mayheu also led the Key Spouse group in monthly meetings and spearheaded the first 30th AS deployment briefing to spouses and families.

Heather A. Schenk
Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center

Schenk serves as Key Spouse for Detachment 5 of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Edwards AFB, Calif. As the focal point for 78 families, she spearheaded the detachment's Facebook page, organized a Thanksgiving feast for singles and families, and coordinated a care package program for deployed unit members. She contributed 100 hours and raised $3,000 for the base thrift shop, served on the Edwards Officers Spouse Club Executive board, and introduced an Air Force orientation program to 400 Edwards AFB spouses.

Twyla S. Smith
Air Mobility Command

Smith serves as Key Spouse for the 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Little Rock AFB, Ark. Smith supported two flights in the squadron, ensuring 100-percent contact during deployments. She established a squadron-wide process to collect family contact information, developed the first squadron Facebook spouse group for 75 spouses and served as chairperson for the squadron "Gone But Not Forgotten" campaign which increased spouse contact. She developed a monthly Key Spouse social event and hosted the first wing and squadron spouse suicide awareness facts and education symposium.

Joanna M. Urban
Pacific Air Forces

Urban serves as Key Spouse for the 18th Security Forces Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan. She was lauded for her leadership to 460 military families. She designed, ordered and distributed 75 spouses' group T-shirts, contributed 80 hours building a network forum for deployed spouses, volunteered to support the annual security forces road-tax fundraiser which raised $3,500, and provided sponsorship during the absence of sponsors. She recruited and registered security forces spouses for Heartlink and led an initiative for ISO Misato Children's' Home, collecting $2,000 in clothing and toys for orphans.

Lisa Weidmann
Air Force Space Command

Weidmann serves as the lead Key Spouse for the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron at Patrick AFB, Fla. She integrated social networking and family events into the spouse program. She also trained and mentored 30 wing Key Spouses, and recruited and mentored seven squadron Key Spouses. She contacted 60 families of deployed service members, led 12 Key Spouse events with 230 participants and created a women's practical self-defense class. She built a deployed-spouse holiday-travel contact list for 100-percent accountability as well as raising more than $3,000 to support families impacted by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Valerie Glessner
Air Force Special Operations Command

Glessner serves as the lead Key Spouse for the 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. She initiated and maintains the welcome basket program for all new squadron members and families with the 352nd SOMXS Top 4. She was hospitality coordinator for the RAF Mildenhall Yuletide Bazaar, and gifts committee chair for the Air Force Sergeants Association Special Persons Christmas Party. She is a committee member for the base-wide Breakfast with Santa and for the Joan Mann Special Sports Day. She also is an American Red Cross volunteer and a member of the RAF Mildenhall Enlisted Spouses Club. Her volunteer efforts have included numerous board positions on the Lakenheath Elementary School Parent Teacher Student Organization as well as serving as a classroom volunteer. And, she is an Anglia Girl Scout Brownie leader.

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