DM spouse wins 2021 Joan Orr Award for ACC

  • Published
  • By Carolyn Herrick
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Jayme Killoren’s face lights up when she talks about the work she does for Davis-Monthan’s Airmen and their families – work which has been noticed and praised by top Air Force leadership and earned her the 2021 Joan Orr Spouse of the Year Award for Air Combat Command.

Though naturally quiet, her actions as the Key Spouse for the 355th Operations Support Squadron make a loud statement about the level of passion she has for making sure other military spouses are well cared for as they navigate the ups and downs of life attached to an active-duty Airman.

“My own experience really influences the drive of what I do,” said Killoren, a work-life specialist at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, who has been volunteering in Key Spouse roles for more than a decade. Her husband, Master Sgt. Kevin Killoren, is an air traffic controller whose career has taken him overseas multiple times, sometimes for long periods of separation from her and their two young sons.

Because of their many moves, Jayme could not finish her nursing degree clinicals and had to entirely change the trajectory of her own career. At times she was stressed, and she relied on her faith, family and community to lift her spirits and provide practical help when needed.

“I turned my resentment into resilience,” said Jayme, who now uses that phrase as a slogan for the new spouse resiliency program she initiated here.

Their family arrived in Tucson, Arizona, in October 2019, after a five-year tour in Germany, where she had been volunteering tirelessly to build community and connections with spouses across the installation, as well as the host nation. Immediately, Jayme volunteered not only as the Key Spouse for the 355th OSS, but also for the 355th Wing Resilience Center – in addition to working part time and raising a family.

Within a few months and in spite of the global pandemic, she’s been able to plan and implement an entirely new spouse resiliency program. This included developing curriculum and marshalling a cadre of facilitators whose goal is to bring military spouses together, educate them about the “why’s” of the military mission and policies, promote services the base offers, and make them feel they have Air Force family they can rely on.

“Jayme leveraged her 10 years of experience as a Key Spouse across four bases and three major commands to identify resiliency needs for our wing’s spouses and partner with our community support coordinator to develop an ACC benchmarked spouse resiliency program,” said Lt. Col. Charles Stretch, Jr., 355th OSS commander, who nominated her for the award. “Her immediate injection of energy into the Key Spouse Program enabled it to pivot with social distancing requirements while maintaining critical connections with unit spouses throughout a uniquely challenging year.”

The program is garnering attention from top Air Force leadership who wish to duplicate her initiatives service-wide, including the ACC commander, Chief of Staff of the Air Force and his wife, Secretary of the Air Force, and former Second Lady of the United States, to whom Jayme presented her innovative program initially.

“It’s getting noticed by the people I have always dreamed of it being noticed by,” said Jayme. “I could see all the spouses across the Air Force having a program that could highly benefit them and strengthen marriages and relationships.”

Despite the numerous accolades she’s received, Jayme remains humble and gives credit to her community center team, who helped shape the program.

“I could not do it without the team that we have built here,” she said. “It’s not just me – I am lucky that I have people on my side, and I feel blessed.”

Her ACC award nomination will now compete at the Air Force-level.