18th Wing honors key spouses during breakfast

18th Wing honors key spouses during breakfast

by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Airman and Family Readiness Center here hosted a Key Spouses Appreciation Breakfast at the Kadena Officers' Club June 24.

The breakfast gave commanders the chance to showcase the hard-working key spouses and mentors from their units and highlight their dedication to a healthy home front.

"It gives us an opportunity to show those key spouses that they're appreciated," said Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Fundulis, Airman & Family Readiness Center NCO in charge of readiness. "They can also kind of see that other units are out there and that they're not alone; it gives them a chance to be around them outside of other venues."

Though this is the fourth time Kadena has hosted a similar affair since the program's creation, Fondulis said it's always nice to publicly showcase all the behind-the-scenes efforts.

"It gives them that public recognition for what they do from their commanders and from their units," Fondulis said. "They're volunteers, but they have to get a lot of training, and they have to follow pretty strict rules."

The Key Spouse program was first developed as a quality of life initiative and was ran for many years from specific bases or commands.

In 2009, the Air Force standardized the program into a commander-led platform within each unit, comprised of the commander, key spouse mentor, first sergeant, key spouse and AFRC.

After the crowd finished eating, representatives from more than 15 base units honored the roughly 60 key spouses in attendance with tokens of gratitude ranging from coins to flowers.

Additionally, two individuals - Lakesha Cole and Julia Poole - received awards for their outstanding work throughout their last year.

Poole, while aiding the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was recognized as the Pacific Air Forces Key Spouse of the Year. Meanwhile, Cole, whose Marine Corps spouse belongs to the Marine Air Control Group 18, was presented the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year award.

Cole said she enjoyed the breakfast, and felt the program remains essential to the mission.

"It's always an honor to be recognized for all your efforts and hard work," Cole said. "I was very happy to be there. There's a lot of work that spouses do, and most of the time, it goes unrecognized. The key spouses play a huge role in our community, and I think it's great that they were all able to come together and just be recognized together as a community." For more information about the Key Spouse program, service members or spouses may talk to unit first sergeants, commanders, current key spouses or the AFRC. To learn more about the Military Spouse of the Year Award, visit http://msoy.militaryspouse.com.

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