SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
COVID-19 showed us the hardships of not being able to see loved ones. Some individuals on base though have been separated from their loved ones, but not because of COVID-19, but rather because they were called to duty and deployed where the Air Force needed them. One deployed spouse decided that if her husband was going to be busy out in the field then she’d get busy right here at home.
Lainie Norman, 82d Security Forces Squadron key spouse, is the 2019 AETC winner for the Key Spouse of the Year Award.
The purpose of this award is to recognize the critical role Key Spouses play in the wing/unit/organization's mission success; enhance command Key Spouses visibility and accomplishments; encourage units to recognize Key Spouses' outstanding accomplishments and contributions to overall mission accomplishment; and motivate Key Spouses to strive for meaningful connections within communities.
“The 82d SFS leadership values Mrs. Norman’s dedication to the Key Spouse role and wanted to submit her for the award so that she is recognized for all of her efforts,” Maj. Andrew York, 82d SFS commander, said. “It is obvious she does not dedicate her time and effort hoping for the spotlight. Mrs. Norman is someone who puts time and energy into the families and people of our squadron, and has been doing all of this while her husband is deployed.”
York said Norman is a natural planner and knocks big events out of the park, but her most significant skill is that she has the ability to think of ideas, or little tokens of thought, that create lasting impressions and impact. An example of this is when she hand wrote a tailored note to every spouse of a deployed Defender with words of encouragement and support (including a coffee gift card). The note was then signed by everyone in the Squadron all the way up to the Mission Support Commander and his spouse.
York said it’s things like these that made Norman the right choice to be nominated for the award, and when she won, York was the first one to tell her of the good news.
“It all feels surreal,” Norman said. “It is truly an honor just to be up for it. And to actually win it, I am shocked and happy!”
Events that Norman orchestrated were two care package drives and the collection of 2,000 dollars in items from the community for squadron deployed members. Her efforts ensured support for 39 Security Forces deployers in six deployed areas of operation. Norman also organized and led three deployed spouse social events, linking 110 dependents with a support system while also being the spouse of a deployed member herself.
Norman said being part of these events and leading, is just part of her role as a key spouse for the 82d SFS. She said being a key spouse is one of her top three favorite things she’s ever volunteered for. Her favorite aspects about being a key spouse is meeting new people, hearing those little words of accomplishment from her fellow spouses and helping the deployed spouses just like her.
“My favorite events have been the deployed spouses’ dinners,” Norman said. “I was that new spouse whose husband just deployed and didn’t know anything and wished I had a tribe of spouses doing life alongside me. That is what set a fire inside me to start these. Seeing it become a wing wide event was jaw dropping.”
Wanting a tribe alongside her, Norman found her people and said that every key spouse should feel seen and heard. She said nowadays (through zoom meetings) they still get together and think of ideas for the base and support each other.
“I feel like every key spouse here should be recognized on this level,” Norman said. “Having won this award was not a solo event. I could not have done half of this, if it weren’t for our whole team of key spouses here.”
Norman said she’d like to thank her Key Spouse mentor Tiffany Kelley, who was nothing short of amazing. Any idea Norman had, Kelley was there to support. Norman said she is lucky to call her mentor a close friend as well.
She also wanted to thank her husband Tech. Sgt. Adam Norman, who has been her biggest supporter and cheerleader. She hopes to catch him up on all the goings-on here at Sheppard once he returns home.