September is a month for Chief's pinnings (and great car washes from the Chief Selectees), back-to-school and in the midst of this is a more quiet event: Ombudsman Appreciation.
I so appreciate Ombudsmen. What an amazing group of volunteers! Who else would be willing to take 4AM crisis management calls without pay? They are misunderstood, underappreciated and sometimes even maligned.
Ombudsmen are Information and Referral specialists for fellow spouses. They are a tremendous resource for 'Navy-Life' challenges as well as the official communication vehicle for command info. They are appointed by their spouse's commanding officer and serve at his pleasure.
I want to do a bit of myth-busting about ombudsmen. First, they are not the provider of various services such as baby-sitting, counselling or transportation. But they are the one to turn to as they have the inside scoop on those services and can refer you to the right place.
Sometimes Ombudsmen get a bad rap. "My ombudsman does nothing!" is a common complaint. Ombudsmen work at the pleasure and direction of the CO. So, if the CO does not want an email tree, newsletter or other such services - the ombudsman cannot do that on their own volition. May I suggest that you contact them and ask if they maintain a CinCHouse site, or other web group connection site for the command, or an email tree or newsletter. Ask to be put on all of these lists.
One other reason you may not hear from your Ombudsman is they don't know you are there! I'm serious about this! The Ombudsman is entitled to the command roster for the command - this roster gives them the list of the SAILORS of the command but NOT the spouse, parents or girlfriends. So, if your service member did not give you the Ombudsman contact information - badger them for it and contact the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will be SO glad you did!
To the Ombudsmen who answer those phone calls 24/7, maintain that email tree, publish newsletters, support their command by supporting the families of the command - there are no words to express my gratitude. You are such an inspiration to me and many others. "Thank you" is not enough...but I want to say thank you for all that you do.
I know that there are many awesome, innovative Ombudsman across the fleet, so let me encourage you to post your message to your Ombudsman (yes, you can mention their first name and command). Also, if you have a story about how an Ombudsman helped you, encouraged you or inspired you - I want to hear about it! Tell me your story!!