Get to know key spouses: Allison Gerstner, 90th MMXS

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This article is the second of a series that introduces key spouses from various 90th Missile Wing squadrons.

While one missile maintenance team member maintains top-priority weapon systems in the missile complex, his spouse works to maintain morale and cohesion among another Air Force top priority: Air Force families.

Allison Gerstner, 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron key spouse, is integral to supporting that priority and helps bridge the gap between military leaders and civilian families within her husband's unit.

Allison, a Jefferson City, Mo., native who met her husband, Airman 1st Class Taylor Gerstner, 90th MMXS MMT member, in grade school, became a key spouse to be more involved in Taylor's career. She also uses her position to help other MMXS families overcome challenges military life may impose.

Prior to his position in the MMXS, Taylor was assigned to the 90th Maintenance Operations Squadron, and Allison became key spouse for that unit. After a month into her tenure in the MOS, her husband changed to the 90th MMXS, and Allison was committed enough to the program to find a replacement for herself prior to becoming the sole MMXS key spouse.

Allison's primary key spouse duties include providing other families in the squadron information, organizing events and being an intermediary between military leadership and families.

"She does her job well, and she's always involved," said Gigi Kiehl, 90th MMXS commander's secretary.

Allison said her involvement also stems from the fact she understands the unique challenge MMXS loved ones face. For example, when they first arrived in March 2014, everything was new to her as she did not receive military indoctrination like Taylor.

To make up for this, she set upon learning all she could about military life -- what the 90th Maintenance Group's mission entails, customs and courtesies, uniform items and their meanings -- and of course being involved with the squadron -- from attending commanders calls to attending retirements and other military functions. She encourages other family members to do the same.

"It makes [life here] a lot easier," she said. "You get a better concept of what to expect in the military life, you meet a lot of your spouse's peers -- knowing who is who -- and you get more of a sense of the job."

Another challenge 90th MMXS Airmen face is deployment to the missile field and frequent travel for temporary duty, which can add on to stress at home, Allison said.

Due to her understanding of this potential stressor, Allison checks on maintainers families when they are away.

"If they have any questions, they can ask her," Taylor said. "She can help give them a good mindset about their spouse [deploying] to the field. Since we [make the] trip out so often, it's good to have a key spouse get involved with the families. "

However, even with Allison explaining all she can, there are aspects of the mission she is not privy to as operational security is integral to mission accomplishment.

Allison said the sensitive nature of the work the Airmen perform in the 90th MMXS can be straining on their relationships because they are not always able to tell their spouses about their day.

"A lot of spouses have a hard time understanding that because they want to know  what's going on," she said. "They want to know when this is happening and when that's happening. The best thing you can do is ask your spouse 'What is it I can know?' and the spouse just has to explain it the best they can. If they have troubles, they can always come to me as a key spouse."

Having people like Allison available can help families understand these things as well as others that may occur.

Plus, key spouses try to bring a sense of community and support.

Allison and other key spouses come together to put on events to raise morale. If meeting a key spouse one-on-one is not comfortable for an Airman's spouse, then activities such as a kids Christmas party, Halloween party, creating Thanksgiving baskets for families in the 90th MXG and making spaghetti for Airmen during busy times can be a group alternative.

The important thing she wants MMXS families to know is that they can thrive here. She tries to introduce herself to all new families, and ensure they are aware there is a social network available. MMXS families who have not yet met Allison can contact her through their first sergeant at 773-2567.