Key Spouse Group unlocks new potential for helping deployed Airman; military families Published Sept. 14, 2008 By Senior Airman Tammy Cario 911th Public Affairs PITTSBURGH IAP ARS -- Calling all military family members: if you haven't been introduced to the Key Spouse Group here at the 911th Airlift Wing, now is your chance. In meeting the Pittsburgh KSG, you might notice it isn't your typical spouse group. "The name, 'Key Spouse' can be misleading," said Mrs. Jane Elwell, an advisor to the 911th AW KSG. First, the KSG isn't for officer's wives only. In fact, over half the members of the Pittsburgh KSG are wives of enlisted Reservists. Second, the mission of the KSG isn't just for the spouses. It's for family members of deployed Reservists, whether the family member is a wife, husband, mother or child. "We are trying to break through some of the stereotypes," said Mrs. Michelle Linscott, the secretary for the KSG. "We want enlisted wives to meet officer's wives and families from one squadron to meet families from another squadron." With nine years active duty Air Force and seven years in the Guard, Mrs. Linscott knows what it's like to be a military member and she also knows what it's like to have a spouse deploy. "We want people to feel comfortable coming to ask us for help," she said. In 1997, the Air Force started the Key Spouse Program at five high deployment bases. Because each base is different and has different mission requirements, the program was meant to be tailored to fit the needs of the individual unit, as is the case with the 911th AW Key Spouse Group. The program was originally meant for active duty bases but with Reservists being utilized more and more, deployment rates are higher than ever. "We are here to provide resources to the families of deployed personnel," said Mrs. Elwell. Sometimes those resources are pamphlets or websites; sometimes the family simply needs to talk to someone about military problems, from healthcare to where to get a military ID while their loved one is deployed. "We are really an appendage of the Family Support Center," she said. In trying to get the word out to families about the KSG and their services, a table with information and handouts was set up at the 2008 Wings Over Pittsburgh air show as well as the 2008 Family Day. "We are trying to be visible to the Reservists and their family members," said Mrs. Elwell, "so they know where to go for information." The 911th AW KSG is coming up with more ideas for easing deployments for families. A web cam is being set up at the Family Support Center so deployed members can talk to their families over the internet. One of the other projects in the works involves distributing backpacks for children of those deployed. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer with the Key Spouse Group, you can call (412) 474-7098 or e-mail email@example.com.