Virginia Beach, Va.
Ombudsmen across the Hampton Roads area were honored by the Navy League of the United States at the Joint Sea Services Hampton Roads Ombudsman Appreciation Luncheon held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center Nov. 17.
The luncheon, the second such event held since 2019, brought together leaders across the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard to show appreciation for their command family ombudsmen.
“Our ombudsmen of today are incredible,” said Rear Adm.Charles W. Rock, Commander, Navy region Mid-Atlantic. “They’re like superheroes, they must be flexible, they must be adaptive, they must be patient, they must be compassionate, and to me the key attribute that you all share that I have so much tremendous respect for is your selflessness.”
Established in 1970, the Navy’s Family Ombudsman Program was created by then Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt in Z-gram #24, one of a series of naval messages to the fleet designed to improve retention in the Navy.
“The Navy’s Family Ombudsmen Program Z-gram #24 discussed and emphasized the importance of our Navy Spouses,” said Command Master Chief Toby A. Ruiz, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. “By doing this the admiral also acknowledged and stressed the vital roles that our spouses fill in their daily lives regardless of where their servicemembers are stationed at. Z-Gram #24 provided what he called an official representative of command and unit families to express their views to the commanding officers and base commanders.”
The word "Ombudsman" originated in Scandinavian countries and referred to safeguarding the rights of citizens. Today the concept of the Ombudsman is widely utilized in the fields of government, business and healthcare.
“I think about the Ombudsman program,” said Lou Schager, Chairman of the Navy League, Hampton Roads. “I’m convinced that the ombudsmen and their role in supporting the triad leadership is just as important to operational readiness in a command than anything because if you’re not comfortable at home, you’re not going to be comfortable at sea.”
Spouses interested in participating in the Family Ombudsmen Program can apply for the position when their Servicemember’s command advertises for volunteers, or they can request to be placed on a standby list of volunteers for future consideration when a position becomes available.
More information about the Navy Family Ombudsman Program can be found at https://www.cnic.navy.mil/ffr/family_readiness/fleet_and_family_support_program/work-and-family-life/ombudsman_program.html.