Key Spouse program changes name in an effort to better reflect mission Published Aug. 3, 2007 By Amanda Creel 78th ABW/PA Robins Air Force Base, Ga. -- The Robins Key Spouse program is taking on a new look to help maximize its ability to aid the Robins community. The program, which is being renamed the Trained Spouses in Action, allows peer-to-peer interaction and trains spouses to assist military families. "The name change is beneficial because it more clearly identifies what it is that we do and makes our training apparent even in our name," said Joy Ashley, the TSIA manager. She added it is also important for members of the Robins community to understand that although the name of the program is changing from Key Spouses to TSIAs (pronounced zeeya), the mission of the program will remain the same. Lt. Col. Sandy Chandler, commander of the 99th Air Refueling Squadron, was pleased with the name change. She said she thinks the name Key Spouse can cause confusion because every military spouse is a key spouse and the mission couldn't be accomplished without them. "I am a huge supporter of the program," she said. "I love the program and I love the fact that it is at the peer-to-peer level." Colonel Chandler said she feels it is easier for Air Force spouses to relate on a peer level and no matter how open leadership is, spouses still feel more comfortable turning to a peer for assistance. "The program is filling a void there that is huge," she said. She said by providing peers with formal training to help them handle problems presented to them and spot individuals who might be headed for trouble, it makes the program an invaluable resource. Master Sergeant Tony Cater, first sergeant of the 54th Combat Communication Squadron agreed, "It's a phenomenal program." He said if changing the name will help get more spouses involved in their units and base activities, then he is all for it. "I believe in this program and we need to get more spouses involved. A lot of times members of the unit are not telling their spouses about programs available and how they could benefit them and this program helps get the spouses the information," Sergeant Cater said. "We are a day-to-day support system, but we go into hyperspeed during times of deployment," Mrs. Ashley said. "The focus of our group is to provide a big sister or a more experienced spouse to guide the spouse through daily dilemmas." The TSIAs are also trained and informed about how to refer members of their units to both on base and local community agencies. TSIAs are trained and adhere to specific Air Force guidelines. The TSIAs also sign a confidentiality agreement agreeing to keep all information private. However, there are some limitations -- TSIAs must divulge information about illegal activities such as spousal abuse or drug abuse. The training provided to the TSIAs help them handle situations of all kinds such as suicide awareness or how to discourage spouses and military members from drinking and driving. "TSIAs are trained volunteers whose duty is to be the information conduit between senior leadership and military members," Ms. Ashley said. Charlie Thompson, who is one of the TSIAs for the 99th ARS, said she decided to get involved with the program because she thought her 14 years of experience as an Air Force spouse might be beneficial to more recent additions to the ranks. "I thought maybe I might have an answer or some experiences for some of the things they are facing," Mrs. Thompson said. She said the training provided to her has been very beneficial and helps her feel prepared to handle all sorts of situations. "A lot of these spouses need these resources especially when they are deployed six months out of the year," Mrs. Thompson said. One of the many benefits of being in contact with your squadron's TSIA is receiving the TSIA monthly newsletter, which includes information about free items or giveaways for military families and offers information about base happenings such as special events for the families of deployed Airmen. Along with the base-wide information, the TSIAs also add any squadron specific information to the newsletter before distributing it the spouses who have subscribed to the newsletter via e-mail. "I feel like it is an important program because it informs you about what is going on and when it is going on," said Arlene Heng, TSIA for the 52nd Combat Communications Squadron. One of the other programs the TSIAs and their program manager are responsible for is Spouses Game Night, which occurs the first Friday of each month. Spouses Game Night offers spouses throughout the base an opportunity for fellowship and fun, while enjoying free food and chocolate. "We are all in this together as military spouses and the most important thing is to know who your resources are and that TSIAs are the most important resource that any military family at Robins needs," Mrs. Ashley said. What to know For more information about the TSIA program or to find out who your TSIA is contact Joy Ashley at 327-7692 or 213-2197. Spouses Game Night is today at 6:30 p.m. in Bldg. 794.