This blog post is the 11th in a series titled “Dialogue with the MCPOCG,” written by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell. As the Coast Guard’s senior enlisted leader, Cantrell is responsible for advising the Commandant on workforce issues, and advocating for military benefits and entitlements. He will periodically use this platform to pass information to the Coast Guard workforce.
Written by Janet Cantrell and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven W. Cantrell
Coast Guard ombudsmen serve as a valuable link between commands and families, helping commanding officers/officers-in-charge better understand the welfare of the families of their members, while at the same time helping families prepare for emergencies and cope with the challenges of a military lifestyle – duty, deployments, transfers, etc.
They deserve all the best resources and information possible, which is why the Coast Guard has worked so hard to expand its Ombudsman Program and the program’s instruction. It’s also why members of the Coast Guard Office of Work-Life updated Sea Legs, a reference guide for Coast Guard family members and other loved ones.
One of the program’s areas of expansion is the development of the District Ombudsman Community of Practice, or CoP. These CoPs are information-sharing forums that exist to support appointed ombudsmen throughout the district.
Monthly, or quarterly, both in-person and telephonic CoP meetings occur between ombudsmen within a district, giving them opportunities to share resources and best-practices or to ask for help when facing a challenging obstacle. Representatives from commands within the district are also encouraged to attend.
CoPs can be used to facilitate ongoing mentorship and training for ombudsmen. CoPs have aided ombudsmen with better understanding issues such as the Coast Guard’s Special Needs Program, operational stress, and childcare. This understanding better enables Coast Guard ombudsmen to quickly and efficiently help our families.
The CoP is a textbook example of a best practice. It has opened up a vital communication link between ombudsmen and the programs that support their efforts.
My wife, Janet, and I want to make sure everyone knows about these CoPs, for which we are both incredibly grateful. The CoP chairpersons who facilitate these forums are doing a tremendous service to the commands and members they support, and they’re doing so in addition to their other ombudsman responsibilities.
Thanks to Christine DeGraw, the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program Manager, and Lori Carrington and Terri Salter-Johnson, the regional ombudsmen for Atlantic and Pacific Areas, respectively.
Currently, Districts 1, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 14 have CoPs. If you are an ombudsman or command cadre and you’re interested in participating, contact your district ombudsman.