PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- (Editor's note: Mrs. Elizabeth Jones recently took on the position of the 302nd Airlift Wing's Key Spouse Program coordinator. The Key Spouse Program supports family members of Reservists with a variety of programs and networks.)
It's a big challenge to take on, but Elizabeth Jones has no other intention but to succeed. The wife of Col. Kurt Jones
, 302nd Operations Group commander, is determined to take on a mission critical to the 302nd AW: families. After recently moving to Colorado when her husband took command, Mrs. Jones knows all too well the trials of packing up and moving cross-country.
The Front Range Flyer
recently sat down with Mrs. Jones, who now takes on the important role as program coordinator for the Key Spouse Program. Known as 'KSP,' the program acts as a beacon of support for 302nd AW families whether they're in need of deployed support or just a friendly person to talk to. The Front Range Flyer
wanted to take a closer look at what families could expect with Mrs. Jones' direction:
FRONT RANGE FLYER:
Please give us an introduction of who you are and what you're representing.
I'm Elizabeth Jones and my husband is Kurt Jones. I am the 302nd Airlift Wing Key Spouse Program coordinator. Together, Kurt and I have five kids and four grand kids.
What support programs at Peterson do you see being of great help to Reserve families?
Some people are independent; they are happy, they're just in their family unit. Other people don't know where to go or who to ask a question to. I hope that we can be a point of contact for them of where they can get answers to their questions. Like, the base now has six counselors that are available to talk about anything too. It's not reported, it can't go on the record and it can't hurt you. I recently talked to a wife of an Airman the other day and she went and used our counselors on base. Family support on base also has financial counseling where you can get financial help before you get into a crisis. I meet people all the time that are in some sort of financial crisis or their house is going to be foreclosed on or they're really suffering because they've moved to a new base and they can't find a job. Our family support has a way to help you find a job in this area. The Key Spouse Program is here to help you find the answers to questions, we're here to be a point of contact and we're here to be a familiar face. And we're here to have fun!
Why do you believe the Key Spouse Program is such as important topic for the wing?
I think it's very important to have fun with a family at an assignment. If your family isn't having fun, it is going to be more difficult for the service member to do their job. If kids are having problems with school, if they are not getting connected, if they're not making friends - if the spouse is feeling trapped at home or not meeting anyone and is lonely we need to help find the right resource to assist that family. I worry about someone who's brand new moving to this area. This can be a hard base to get connected with. I have a daughter-in-law who is brand new to the Air Force world. Her husband, our son, has been deployed three times. They had some huge issues with their pay and filling taxes and if we hadn't been in the Air Force she wouldn't have known how to get the answers to her problems. Our son had issues after getting out of the Marines with not getting money for college from his GI Bill. His dad answered his questions and found answers. I don't want anybody in the 302nd [Airlift Wing] to have questions or have problems and not have a friendly face and a phone number to call. That's what the Key Spouse Program is all about. When you have formal functions to attend, you want to walk in and know some familiar faces, instead of being in a room full of strangers. That makes such a difference. When you walk into an environment like that it's much more fun to say hi and you know somebody's name. And you're connected. Creating a network like the Key Spouse Program also eliminates any type of bureaucratic system because we put a human face on helping so that somebody has a point of contact if their spouse is deployed or even if their spouse isn't deployed. This is especially important when spouses or family members just need to talk to somebody who's actually been through what they're going through. Some people will never need us, some people will. And you have something to give to this organization whether or not you're the person who needs it or whether you're the person who's going to be the information for someone else. I'm looking for others that will help me be that point of contact for their units.
What is something you've seen in the Air Force Reserve lately that has you worried?
You know, I'm very concerned that the divorce rate is going up in the military in general. A recent Associated Press story
showed another yearly increase in divorces, which saddens me. The Air Force is deploying like never before, and families do get stressed out. That's why the KSP can be such a helpful organization.
Do you think it's because of the increased operations tempo?
Whether it's because of our mission or the stress or what's going on in life, we need to be here for each other. Sometimes just getting out of your house and meeting somebody who has already been through it or talk to someone ... that can be a real help. I'm not here to fill up activities and have more stuff because time is valuable. But rather, I am here to hopefully be a point of contact so when you come to Peterson Air Force Base
and this is your assignment, that you have at least a familiar face or someone that you can call when you need something.
You can read more of our interview with Mrs. Jones by reading the Winter 2009 edition of the Front Range Flyer
. Don't have the Flyer
? You can see it online by visiting the 302nd AW's public Web site at www.302aw.afrc.af.mil