Our Guest: Whitney Armstrong from the Military Spouse Advisory Network (MSAN)

We are a 501c(3) nonprofit organization that has been around for almost 8 years, focused on empowerment and support for military spouses. We are a mentorship hub dedicated to that support and resources. We especially help new military spouses. It is so useful to have a peer mentor to reach out to! We also have a leadership development program. We have the best experts in the space directly to our military spouses. We work with incredible partners like PCSgrades, and we have developed a PCS course with them in our mentorship hub! 

Our network is made up of over 150 military spouse volunteers devoting their time to helping fellow military spouses and thriving on peer mentorship. 

What is the Military Spouse Advisory Network?

We are a nonprofit by military spouses, for military spouses, focused on education, empowerment, and support!

MSAN recently created a Mentorship HUB. Tell us about it.

Our military spouse mentorship program specific to new spouses came online a few years ago to match new spouses with trained volunteer mentors. We would hand-pair them to communicate via email. It worked for a while, but grew until COVID when we opened up our program to all military spouses. It took a pandemic for our organization to realize we needed to interact and be able to pair ALL military spouses. The Mentorship HUB launched in February. It is a platform that is uniquely by military spouses, for military spouses. Everything you can think of and want is in this HUB. There are mentors and profiles listed, but this is not part of social media, so it’s an incredible place where everything can be accessed in one place! You can talk to a mentor, access educational and virtual resources, and take courses like the PCSgrades course we will talk about soon. This is a one-stop shop that will lead to other resources, so it offers much more information than local Facebook groups where answers get buried and answers aren’t always polite or helpful. 

Who is eligible to participate in this mentorship HUB?

Literally anyone! All spouses, all branches. And it can be used as either a website or an app, so you can download the app and use it on your IOS or Android device. We have mentors who speak various languages, and the mentorship is available 24/7 so you can always find someone to talk to in various time zones and parts of the world. Everything is now in one place, and we are so pleased to see all these connections being made. You can send private messages, say hello, etc. This includes Reserves and National Guard. There are even specific groups in the HUB, so you can join your own branch or ask questions to other branches. We know that sometimes the policies or way of life can be different on different types of installations, so it can be refreshing to find the same language and acronyms by getting a mentor in your branch. Everyone here is so positive and uplifting, they are trained volunteers who know how to refer to our partner resources. They have been around a few years and experienced different installations. They have donated so many hours of volunteering to support our milspouse community. We provide our volunteers with micro-certifications like mental health, so they are better prepared to help each other, but also so they have something to put on a resume and transfer to their next duty station. 

You can sign up for and access the Mentorship HUB here.

Show us what the HUB looks like!

First, to access the HUB, you can go to our site and fill out a basic Google form to enter basic information. This is to keep you safe, and to make sure we are offering you the best resources. Once you complete the form, it will take you directly to the HUB and to your new profile, where you can add your photo, fill out your profile, set up notifications, etc. If you don’t want pings from each new post, you can get a daily digest email with the highlight reel of the day. This is a living, breathing page that is always changing, so we are always adding more info. 

You can use the Discovery Tab to see featured videos, upcoming events, and sync to your Google calendar. 

Under Topics, you can click in to see all the options related to that topic. You can see videos and chats related to those topics, even if they originally aired on social media. 

On the left sidebar, the final option is called Courses. If you click there, you will see the newest course offered from PCSgrades! You can start anywhere and click through to read different information about PCSing. You can do Area Research to learn about a specific military installation, or learn about PCS finances. There are little quizzes called “Knowledge Checks” to help you understand what you just read, but you don’t have to take them if you don’t want to. Consuming the entire PCS class at once would be a lot. So just click on one part of the class at a time, access the free resources, and use the PCS Checklist to figure out when you need to start different tasks. I love that this is a free download speaking directly to military spouses. There is also a lot of information for specific moving situations, such as moving with kids, pets, while pregnant, or moving overseas. This course is going to have three Modules, and we only have the first two modules published so far. You get to see it when it has just come out!

If you see something that isn’t explained or answered, then be in communication and talk to our mentors about it, to see if we can add it or if it is going to be covered in Module 3. We want to make these courses better for future generations! I challenge each of you to send something that you learned from this webinar today to someone else, and get them into the course so they can learn more!

On our site, you can always message mentors, see who is on the various topics, and talk to anyone from specific military branches. If you want to be paired with a mentor and let MSAN pick someone dedicated to you, then we have that long-term option available too. Sometimes people just want to ask a quick question, but other times, they want to have a mentor friendship that can grow and develop over the years to teach each other things. 

You can also add your location, (if you choose) to find fellow military spouses near your area who might be able to meet up in person or attend local events together. It is great to see friendships developing outside of the virtual environment. 

Can you tell our audience about getting involved with MSAN?

MilitarySpouseAdvocacyNetwork.org is our website, and it lists our volunteer photos and our board of directors and leadership team. Our volunteers are the ones who drive our organization. There is so much passion and love in our volunteers there. Everyone who is part of MSAN wants to help and support others. If you want to become a mentor or represent a particular branch, I can tell you we always need mentors, and there is a Contact Us button on the website that takes you to our HR department. They can tell you all about trainings and micro-certifications. If you want to help fellow military spouses, contact us, send us a resume, and you’ll go through a short interview process. You can also email us at [email protected]. We absolutely need you. We have just over 150 volunteers, and there are so many ways to engage and volunteer your time and share your experience with other spouses.

Watch the full webinar here: