Navy, Coast Guard recognize ombudsmen on Guam
The Navy and Coast Guard on Guam recognized its ombudsmen during an annual appreciation luncheon at the Top O’ the Mar in Asan Sept. 21.
During the event, key speaker Capt. Mike Ward, commanding officer, U.S. Naval Base Guam, shared his experiences in communicating with ombudsmen and expressed his gratitude to those who sacrifice their time to support military families.
“At the CO, XO (Executive Officer) and leadership level, we focus on mission a lot and we sometimes lose focus on those families,” he said. “The ombudsman is there to do that conduit in communication and the important thing is…they’re volunteers and patriots and offer their own free time to support the command and families and take care of them.”
Following his speech, Navy and Coast Guard commands presented certificates of appreciation to their ombudsmen.
Maritime Expeditionary Security Group 1 Det. Guam Ombudsman Vanessa Weiderhoeft said she was grateful for the Fleet and Family Support Center’s (FFSC) appreciation for what ombudsmen do.
“I really enjoy the role of co-ombudsman,” she said. “It’s been in my heart to really help other spouses and families and to just kind of be that person they can go to with my co-ombudsmen if they need help or if they just need someone to listen to them; or they need to know how to contact somebody…whatever it may be, just knowing they have someone there they can trust; and we’re there 24/7 for them.”
FFSC Ombudsman Coordinator Heather Horvath said having been an ombudsman; she understands the amount of work that is put into the task.
“Being an ombudsman is often classified as a thankless job because there’s so much work that goes into helping families, serving 24/7, whether it’s an e-mail, a phone call or getting vital information out that’s vital to the quality of life for our family members here,” she said. “So just to get that extra recognition and say thank you to them; they’re the people that least expect it, but they’re the most grateful for it.”
The Navy Family Ombudsman Program was established in 1970 by Adm. Elmo Zumwalt to address the needs of military families. Since then, ombudsmen have worked to keep families and commanding officers informed, taking care of families in times of need.
For more information about the Navy’s ombudsman program, contact FFSC at 333-2056.