Career Focus: One team, one family, Feb. 15

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Joseph Mulcahy
  • Career Assistance Advisor
At last month's right decision briefings, I shared career information with enlisted folks who were contemplating reenlistment. We covered entitlements and personnel programs. We also discussed force shaping.

I talked about how our rosters have decreased to 340,000 and reminded them that as we get smaller, only motivated, competent and committed professionals would be permitted to stay, but we would still remain a close-knit family. I received skeptical looks when I mentioned family and Air Force in the same sentence, so I asked them to raise their hands if they thought the Air Force wasn't a family. Four out of 27 did.

I asked them why they thought we were not a family. Their responses focused on force shaping and an uncertain future. Many also complained that their spouses had been uninformed about unit and base activities.

Our lives and missions are demanding. At times, we may leave our families in the dark or forget to invite them to events. However, the Air Force has many programs geared toward family support. Unfortunately, many of us don't take advantage of these programs. As I surveyed the class, I saw that nobody had brought their spouse even though spouses were invited. Likewise, few spouses come to first term airman classes, newcomer orientations and similar events even when they're invited.

Military members do an outstanding job of taking care of each other. Therefore, I disagreed with my audience's assessment that our Air Force isn't a family, but I agreed that we could do a better job integrating families into our culture. We can invite families to many unit functions, banquets and similar activities. We can also strengthen family participation by supporting unit key spouse programs.

Key spouses are focused people. They serve as links between unit leadership and families. When a member deploys, it's the key spouse who helps provide support to those left behind. Key spouses also help plan and coordinate unit activities aimed at strengthening military families. They are appointed by unit commanders and should be excellent communicators, knowledgeable about Air Force life and be ready to assist when called upon.

Recently, I chatted with John Woodworth and asked him why he chose to become a key spouse for the mission support squadron.

He said, "I saw a need for bridging the gap between units and families. It's obvious that we can do more. I want to help."

I also talked with Marita Smith, a unit deployment manager, who said "Programs like key spouse help families put faces to names and help folks find out where to go when the going gets tough." 

Based on my experiences, the Air Force is one team and one family. We are far better at taking care of families than any corporation. However, we can always do more. Family centered programs are there, they just require more of our support.

If you would like to know more about family programs or want to become a key spouse contact your unit's first sergeant, the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 853-1713, give me a call at 846-6636 or e-mail me at

See you in the wings!