5 Years of Empowerment, Support, and Inspiration
As children, many of us have dreams for what we want to do for the future. Some of us dream of being teachers, doctors, superheroes, or racecar drivers. As we get older our dreams change and shift, and we must decide where our passions lead us. Every great idea, every great organization, and every great project came from one person’s vision being supported and followed by many influential people behind them.
How it all began
Military Spouse Advocacy Network, a dedicated network of seasoned military spouses who volunteer their time, talents, and experience to advocate, mentor, educate, and empower new military spouses, started out as just a dream. That dream, to provide resources and mentorship to new military spouses, became a vision supported by hundreds of volunteers. With the mission to create stronger military families through education, empowerment, and support, MSAN has paved the way for mentors and new spouses to cohesively navigate military life. MSAN’s mentoring program provides new spouses peer-to-peer mentorship with first-hand experiences and a community of men and women who have faced similar challenges. Filing a gap of support that new military spouses experience when transitioning from civilian to military life.
Filling the gap
It has been the dream and work of Verenice Castillo, president, founder, and CEO of MSAN, and a talented and dedicated team of volunteers that has shaped this mission and vision into a global organization. Verenice, a fearless leader, saw the gap new military spouses experience. This gap, often leading to isolation and limited knowledge, is now filled by the Military Spouse Support Program, a diverse program focusing on peer-to-peer mentoring and a resource center. The mentors, who are trained volunteers, provide resources and unique perspectives to military spouses of all branches.
There are different platforms MSAN focuses on such as Career and Employment, Deployment & Reintegration, Education, Finance, and Mental Health & Wellness. Through developing this diverse network, MSAN has been able to build relationships and receive support from official agencies such as the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), Spouse Ambassador Network (SAN), Hiring Our Heroes, Hiring Heroes USA, Defense Credit Union Council, Hidden Heroes and many more. These connections allow more gaps to be filled as mentors connect new spouses to the various organizations with the intention of empowering new spouses to become more educated on a variety of topics.
Recognition and influence in the community
Military Spouse Advocacy Network has been featured in many publications over the last five years including Military Spouse Magazine, Military Families Magazine, Military Home Life, and Wingman Magazine to name just a few. The organization has grown from one volunteer being a guest at the White House, to participating in many panels and conferences. Every Thursday, MSAN has boots on the ground at Air Force Basic Military Training. There are MSAN information tables at many events, briefings, trainings, and so many other areas allowing the amount of spouses being reached to grow to over 250,000 spouses globally.
Who is being impacted?
As an organization, MSAN is mentoring the youngest new military spouses, a range from 18-34 years old. Over fifty percent of those receiving mentoring have been married for less than one year. Forty-seven percent of those receiving mentoring feel as if they do not have knowledge of the benefits, resources, and programs they have access to. NINETY-ONE PERCENT of these spouses believe mentorship is beneficial. Sixty-six percent of the spouses need support with career and employment, and seventy-nine percent need new military spouse support and mentors. These numbers come from a pool of over 1000 new military spouses utilizing the amazing support system MSAN has created.
One person’s vision has led to a diverse organization shaping the future of military spouses across the world. The diligent group of volunteers work together endlessly to provide streamlined encouragement, empowerment, support, education, and connectedness with the youngest generation of military spouses through peer-to-peer mentoring unlike any other of its kind!