The Navy Ombudsman Program was established 29 years ago by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt in response to his concern for the issues and needs of Navy families. Since it's inception, the Ombudsman Program is continuously evolving to adapt to the changing needs of the Command and its families.
The Ombudsman is a vital resource in assisting the Command in discharging the Commanding Officer's responsibilities for the morale and welfare of the families in the Command. The Ombudsman Program belongs to the Command and is shaped largely by the Commanding Officer's perception of the needs of his/her Command.
The Ombudsman is appointed by and works under the guidance of the Commanding Officer, who determines the priorities of the program. The effectiveness of the Command Ombudsman Program in serving the needs of the Command and its families is greatly influenced by these decisions. The Ombudsman may be directed by the Commanding Officer to participate in any activity that promotes the welfare and morale of the families. These activities might include:
- Participating in the planning of deployment support activities (predeployment, deployment, return/reunion)
- A welcome program for families and single personnel reporting to the Command
- Representing the Command on committees, boards and groups concerned with the services and support of the families
- Receiving and disseminating information updates during deployment or mobilization
- Source of emergency and crisis information
- Participating in the indoctrination and orientation of new Command personnel/families
- Participating in the sponsor program for incoming personnel
- Act as liaison between the Commanding Officer and Command families keeping him/her informed of their general health, welfare, and morale
- Serve as a primary focal point to disseminate official information to the families
- It is important to remember that the Ombudsman is not a social director and should be excluded from organizing social activities for the Command. They may however, be a supporter of Command sponsored group and activities and also advertise support group/spouse club as permitted by the Commanding Officer.
- It is important to select the "right" individual to take on the role of the Ombudsman. Maturity and experience are essential. They must be a team player, outgoing, friendly and able to work well with people. Ombudsmen are bound by a strict code of confidentiality and should be someone that will be credible within the Command and with Command families.
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