MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- A new family arrives on base and before they even have time to get comfortable in their new community, they are preparing for their service member’s deployment. It’s a situation all too common on military bases these days. Sometimes, a spouse can feel cut off from their loved one, or worse, the world they had grown used to at their last command.
But a military spouse need not feel lost, for there is hope.
The Key Volunteer Network exists to help spouses stay in touch with their loved ones by forwarding updated, accurate information about what’s happening in their spouse’s unit, as well as introducing military spouses who are new to the base about the Combat Center and its surrounding areas.
“The KVN is there for all units,” said Monica McBroom, key volunteer trainer. “They are there to give information to the spouses. They are particularly helpful when service members are deployed because the service member is not here to relay that information from the command or the command’s staff.”
The KVN was designed for commanding officers to keep family members updated about what is happening within the unit. When a key volunteer coordinator gets information, it is circulated through the unit’s network, said McBroom.
“It frees the command to concentrate on the mission,” said Lorie Lassater, key volunteer coordinator for 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.
The KVN also works as a support group, especially for a deployable unit. Key volunteers get spouses of the unit together to help each other get through the deployment and answer questions about the unit’s or service member’s status, said Elaine Taylor, Headquarters Battalion key volunteer coordinator.
Lassater, married to Gunnery Sgt. Shelby Lassater, CAAT Black platoon sergeant, Weapons Company, 3/7, for about 10 years, feels her experience as a military spouse could be extremely helpful to spouses new to the Corps. It provides an outlet for spouses who’ve been around the Marine Corps to pass information around to new ones, she said.
KVN also welcomes incoming families, provides information and referral, offers moral support during difficult times, and assists in developing and maintaining a sense of community among the unit.
“The KVN is very valuable,” she stated. “The women who serve should be commended because we all have spouses who are deployed, and we take this stress along with dealing with our spouses being gone.”
Each unit aboard the base has its own KVN, but Headquarters Battalion recently reactivated theirs.
“When I came here, I wanted to get involved and be a part of the ministry that my husband was doing,” said Taylor. After she found out about the key volunteers, she went through the course and restarted the KVN for Headquarters Battalion.
Spouses interested in becoming key volunteers can contact their key volunteer coordinator or McBroom. After attending a training session created by Headquarters Marine Corps to become key volunteers, they need to approach their spouse’s commanding officer or family readiness officer and be appointed in writing.
“We try to accommodate all types of spouses whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, whether you work during the day or have other volunteer commitments,” said McBroom.
Spouses are not required to give a certain amount of time or obligation to the KVN, but they are free to help out however they feel able.
“To volunteer doesn’t mean spouses have to give up a whole lot of time,” said Taylor. “Spouses can choose how much time they want to volunteer. They can volunteer for just one project, or they can volunteer to do one type of thing. We want spouses to know they can help in whatever capacity they want to.”
The next key volunteer training course will be Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is another course Feb. 7 and 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The key volunteer network is a great resource for all service members and their spouses as well as for the units,” said McBroom. “They have a bigger demand during a deployed unit’s time away from the base, but they also hold a very important position with the unit for non-deployed service members.”