Security Forces spouse claims AF award

Posted on August 10, 2020 by Staff reports

Natasha Williams, 96th Security Forces Squadron Key Spouse, recently won the Air Force’s Key Spouse of the Year.

The award recognizes an individual in the Air Force Key Spouse program, who makes a difference in Air Force families. 

News of winning the award sent Williams “over the moon.”

“It wasn’t something I strived for.  It was something that happened to me,” said the Virginia native.  “I’m honored to have a positive impact on so many lives and grateful to receive the award.”  

Williams, a Key Spouse since 2018, said her commitment to the unit’s approximately 480 Airmen and spouses comes from a passion to serve others.

Williams’ spouse Master Sgt. Jonathan Williams is the 96th SFS Logistics and Readiness section chief.   During their three years of marriage, they changed station three times and were separated by a remote tour and a deployment.

In her Key Spouse role, he encourages resiliency, unit engagement and connects squadron members to a vast array of resources as needed.

Among her accomplishments, Williams implemented a love book program at her squadron in April 2019, an initiative that has since spread Air Force-wide.

Williams’s project originated in 2017 when she mailed a love book, a pocket-sized journal filled with expressions of love and support, to her deployed husband to help ease their separation.

“I put it on my desk and read it any time I needed to smile,” Master Sgt. Williams recalled.  “It got me through a hard deployment.”

He returned his wife’s gesture by giving her a love book full of memories of their tour of duty in Hawaii.

Her next idea was for 96th SFS families to use the love books for the same purpose.  She conducted a trial run with more than 20 deployed Airmen and their families. The objective was to promote communication, stronger relationships and resiliency.  

Williams’ proposal for Eglin to buy five variations of love books for all base deployers was approved by base leadership in July 2019.  A few months later, the initiative got Air Force leadership’s attention.  The organization approved a $1 million purchase of love books for Air Force-wide implementation in January.  The program went live in June. 

Airman and Family Readiness Centers now offer love books to deployed Airmen, those on temporary duty for 30 days or longer and their spouses. 

“I never thought this little idea would create such a big impact and go this far,” Williams said.  “Sometimes things that make big differences in people’s lives come in small packages.”

Currently, she regularly reaches out to 96th SFS members affected by COVID-19.  She also spearheads a ‘meal train’ program, where 96th SFS volunteers prepare and deliver food to temporarily incapacitated members and their families. 

Williams said she enjoys taking squadron questions and concerns to 96th SFS leadership.

“I can freely address personnel issues with them, like morale, housing and health,” she said.  “It’s critical to have their backing and support.”

Janice Barnes, AFRC flight chief, oversees the base’s Key Spouse program.  She praised Williams’ efforts.

“Natasha embodies the call of this important work,” she said.  “She is creative in her approach to serving 96th SFS personnel.  She always brings her ‘A’ game to every situation.  She deserves the award.”