If you or someone you know is interested in applying to be on the 2023-2025 Advisory Board, visit milfanet.org/apply.
The opinions expressed below are the views of the author, Alexandra Simon.
Serving on the MFAN Advisory Board for the past two years has been the highlight of my volunteer work. It has made me feel like my experience as a military spouse is important and my voice matters not only to MFAN, but the greater military community.
As a Navy spouse for over 13 years, I spent my time focused on continuing my career while balancing motherhood and supporting my service member’s career. I am fortunate that I found employment at every duty station we have lived (six and counting). But it wasn’t easy! I overcame many obstacles that military families deal with every day: accessing quality child care, navigating PCS moves, unemployment, underemployment, and becoming a caregiver for sick family members.
I decided to apply to the MFAN Advisory Board because I wanted to share my personal experiences and amplify the voices of the Navy Training Administration of the Reserves (TAR) and Selective Reserves community and the military families residing in Greater New Orleans.
As an active duty and later TAR spouse, who was working full-time, I was searching for my purpose and my people within the military community, while continuously overcoming challenges. Through volunteering, and ultimately joining the MFAN Advisory Board, I stopped feeling so alone in my spouse journey.
At MFAN, I finally found my tribe – military and veteran spouses who want to help and are helping.
Mr. Rogers has said numerous times, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
The advisory board members that I have served with over the past two years are a group of amazing people with impressive backgrounds and networks. But most importantly, they are helpers! Just like me, they volunteer their time to work towards solutions for problems facing military and veteran families.
Connecting regularly with other advisory board members has allowed me to build relationships and friendships that have grown into what we’ve coined our “MFANily.” I now have fourteen people who I can reach out to when I need support or when I need help finding a resource for someone in my military network. From veteran resources to TRICARE questions, our group has a wealth of information that allows us to continue supporting our local military communities, as well as our own families.
I have become educated about the other branches of the armed forces and what makes each of them special. Since the advisory board members are located all over the United States, when we come together every few months in person, we dive deep into the issues and work towards finding solutions – big and small. These meetings fuel me for months and I know that my work in supporting military families will continue past our last meeting.
Whether it’s a meeting with leaders like Patricia “Patty” Barron, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, who have a seat at the table to make a real impact for military families or participating in the MFAN Solutions Summit with fellow board members and stakeholders representing MSOs and VSOs, MFAN has amplified my voice and the voices of military spouses and families.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve and I hope that my story will inspire others to volunteer their time.