Posted by Cmdr. Glynn Smith on behalf of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.
This post is the first in a series from Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp to provide more insight into his Year of the Coast Guard Family initiative that was highlighted in his State of the Coast Guard address. This post focuses specifically on the Coast Guard’s ombudsman program.
Last week, I had the privilege to honor a very special Shipmate, the Ombudsman of Coast Guard Cutter Valiant, Mrs. Alma Buckley, with the Wanda Allen-Yearout Ombudsman of the Year Award for 2010. She epitomizes the role of an ombudsman through her facilitation of needed support for Valiant families. She went above and beyond, and as a result, Valiant was able to focus its energy on safely performing the mission.
As I proclaimed in my recent State of the Coast Guard Address, 2011 is the “Year of the Coast Guard Family.” My goal is to, “place renewed focus on ensuring our housing, child care development centers and other family support programs are the best they can be.” And while there are many parts of this initiative, first on my list is the ombudsman program.
According to Wikipedia, “an ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency.” Simply put, ombudsmen provide support to our families. Ombudsmen provide our families with peace of mind — we couldn’t do our jobs without them!
My plan is to provide ombudsmen the tools they need to strengthen Coast Guard families. The family unit is an essential element in our society and equal component of our service community. We must do what we can to minimize impacts to families when service members are performing their duties.
With this in mind, we have taken initial steps to help these amazing people who volunteer to serve as ombudsmen. We have established a full-time Ombudsman Program Manager at Coast Guard Headquarters to guide the program. Additionally, we are opening two more full-time Regional Ombudsman Coordinator positions on the Health, Safety and Work-Life Service Center staff in Norfolk, VA, and Oakland, CA, to address ombudsman issues within each Area and to support ombudsmen in the field.
Times have changed dramatically since I first entered the fleet as a new ensign in 1975. Nowhere is this more evident than the organization’s emphasis on families. And with good reason. Families are central to all of us – and they are the rejuvenating force that sustains the versatile and agile people who serve our great Nation.
Adm. Bob Papp