Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego protects seaports and waterways, safeguarding harbors, ports, facilities, vessels and their cargo. Their special capabilities, designed to close the readiness gaps in ports, often find them deployed for months at a time. And as they perform their mission, far from home, one woman is on a mission to safeguard the unit’s families – Amanda Satter, MSST San Diego’s ombudsman.
Satter was not directed or told or ordered to fill in as ombudsman. She volunteered. The choice to spend time and effort as an ombudsman was an easy one though, and it all came back to keeping the 145 active duty and reserve members at the unit ready.
“Having a unit ombudsman is so important because it provides a connection between the command and the families which allows the servicemember to have a better peace of mind while performing their job, which often requires them to be away from their family for an extended period of time,” explained Satter.
As the link to the command and families, Satter confronts issues at the unit head on. Which is important because these issues, like many that military families encounter, are tough. Missing the birth of a first child, stresses of deployment and strains on marriages are all challenges Satter has taken on and supported.
Like all maritime safety and security teams, MSST San Diego is deployable worldwide. There is a tremendous amount of support needed for all families before a deployment, and as a spouse herself, Satter knew a lot about these uncertainties. She created informational material to send to all of the families and reached out to the command with questions still needing to be addressed before the deployment. The command listened to the families and held an event to answer questions and reduce the stress the families were experiencing.
With the desire to better serve the men and women at the unit, Satter traveled across the country to attend Yellow Ribbon events. Experiencing the program at various units, and building her network of support professionals all over the nation, she was further armed with knowledge and resources to support the unit’s families.
Satter also found opportunities to strengthen families by sponsoring a job club. Aiming to make spouses more aware of jobs in the area, she increased their opportunity of finding job openings in a difficult job market. Additionally, Satter created bi-monthly emails, providing information on highly sought after benefits at child care facilities, financial planning workshops, young sporting activities, parenting workshops and scholarship opportunities.
As an ombudsman, Satter constantly seeks new ways to support servicemembers and their families, and she encourages others to do the same as well. She knows she can’t do it alone, however, and taps into the Coast Guard-wide network of ombudsmen who are bettering their units across the country.
“Don’t be scared to reach out to other ombudsmen to ask for help,” she said. “Sharing ideas and resources with each other has been so helpful to me.”
She also encourages families who see a need for more support at their unit to step up to the plate.
“Every unit needs an ombudsman, so don’t be scared to step up and volunteer – you won’t regret it!”
Through all of the deployments and all of her efforts, Satter says her reward is in knowing she made a difference for a family.
“The most enjoyable part of being an ombudsman is hearing from a family that they benefited in some way from a resource I directed them to or that they had a great time at an event they learned about through me,” said Satter.
And with every family ready, every servicemember is ready. Something the Coast Guard depends on as MSST San Diego performs their vital homeland security mission.