I have recently become the Ombudsman at my husbands command, and this is my first time in this role. I really wish I would’ve known more about this role as one of many resources available to Navy families.
In 1970, Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Jr., then Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), created the Navy Family Ombudsman Program to improve communication between commands and the families of sailors who served in them.
In 2006, Admiral Michael G. Mullen, CNO, re-emphasized the importance of the program and signed an updated instruction, highlighting the requirement that all Navy families have access to a Navy Family Ombudsman.
Similar to the Army FRG Leader or the Air Force Key Spouse, an Ombudsman is a key liaison between command and military families.
According to the CNIC website, Navy Ombudsmen “are trained to disseminate information both up and down the chain of command, including official Department of the Navy and command information, command climate issues, local quality of life (QOL) improvement opportunities and “good deals” around the community.”
An Ombudsman is not the nosey neighbor or the gossipy spouse; he or she is command appointed representative that volunteers to support both families and the command. It is a vital role and responsibility.
If you are not familiar with the program or your own Ombudsman, ask your command about it! In the meantime, here are some helpful places to look for Ombudsman resources.
- MyNavy Family: I was not aware of this resource until I went through Ombudsman training. This is a centralized app where you can seek answers to military life. According to this website, it “connects Navy families to information and resources to help them successfully navigate the complexities of the Navy lifestyle.” Take a look for yourself!
- Facebook: Some command Ombudsmen will have their own dedicated Facebook page where you can see updates, comment, and network amongst other Navy families within your command. Ask about yours and get connected!
- Phone: Did you know that Ombudsmen have a dedicated phone where you can call? This can be a useful way to find support and help when you need it. Some instances are reportable to the Command CO, so be aware of that prior to calling.
- Reportable include: Suspected or Known Child abuse/neglect, Alleged domestic abuse, Suspected or potential violence or life endangering situations, Potential/suspected suicidal risks, Alleged sexual assault
If you are a Navy spouse, have you used the Ombudsman program before? Whether you have or haven’t, I hope you will connect with yours and take advantage of this amazing program.