What is the Ombudsman Program?
The Ombudsman Program is a command-operated program, intended to improve communication between the command and a Sailor's family members. Navy Family Ombudsmen are communication links, information and referral resources, and advocates for command family members.
What are the functions of an Ombudsman?
An Ombudsman communicates regularly with command families, provides information and outreach to command families, provides appropriate referral resources and acts as an advocate for command families.
How does someone become an Ombudsman?
Appointed by the commanding officer, command ombudsmen are volunteers and spouses of services members within the command. Someone can apply for this position when the command advertises for volunteers, or they can request to be placed on a standby list of volunteers for future consideration when a position(s) becomes available. Volunteers are screened, selected and appointed by the commanding officer (CO). A board, which may include the command master chief (CMC), executive officer (XO), current ombudsman, and/or other command members, as directed, may assist the CO in the selection process.
What training is provided to the Ombudsman?
The ombudsman, with command support, receives Ombudsman Basic Training (OBT). OBT is a standardized course that provides the required knowledge and develops the skills necessary to perform effectively as the command ombudsman. Ombudsmen continue their education by attending ongoing training. These trainings provide in-depth information on a variety of topics such as public speaking, organizing resources, newsletter training and more.
Is financial support available for an Ombudsman?
The command, based on an authorized budget, can provide reimbursement of personal expenses incurred during performance of ombudsman duties. Reimbursable items can include childcare, mileage, communication equipment (such as a computer, cell phone, and pager), Internet service, telephone lines and travel expenses.
Is the Navy the only branch that has an Ombudsman Program?
The Marine Corps has staff Family Readiness Officers who serve as the liaison between the command and the command families. They maintain some roles for spouse volunteers that are similar to the roles of ombudsmen, with a more focused job scope such as administration or social. The Air Force has Key Spouse Program whose volunteers perform a similar role to the Ombudsman Program, and the Army has Family Readiness Support Assistants, which are similar to the Marine Corps’ FROs.
Who is the Ombudsman’s point of contact at the command?
Ombudsmen work for the commanding officer (CO) at a command. Generally, the CO appoints the command master chief (CMC) to be the point of contact (POC) for the ombudsmen. Most COs will meet with their ombudsmen periodically, even if the CMC is the POC.
Who can be an Ombudsman?
It is Navy personnel policy that persons appointed as Navy Family Ombudsmen are the spouses of active duty members of the command or selected reserves. If the commanding officer/commander is unable to select the spouse of an active duty or selected reserve command member then it refers them to enclosure (1) of OPNAVINST 1750.1G for waiver procedures.
Who can use Ombudsman services?
The ombudsman is a vital link between the command and Navy families. In broader terms, the Navy family is made up of all active-duty and selected reserve Navy members, including single and married service members, their family members, the service member’s parents, siblings, and others at the discretion of the commanding officer.
How can families locate or contact their Ombudsmen at their next duty station before their arrival?
There is a Contact Your Ombudsman feature on the Ombudsman Registry. Click on the location of the global maps where the command is located, then click on the installation name and select your command from the list of commands on that installation. A request form will appear for that command allowing you to fill in your information and questions or comments. You will then be contacted within 24-48 hours.
If the command you are looking for does not have an ombudsman assigned, or is not listed in the database, you will be contacted by the Ombudsman Registry Administrator, who will provide you with assistance in contacting your command ombudsman. A spouse may also call the local Fleet and Family Support Center and ask the Ombudsman Coordinator to give them the name of the ombudsmen they are seeking.
How can Ombudsmen locate or contact other Ombudsmen?
Ombudsmen may use the same Contact Your Ombudsman feature mentioned in the previous question. They may also contact the Ombudsman Coordinator at the installation.
What is the Ombudsman’s role with the command in a crisis or disaster situation?
Commanding officers should discuss the ombudsman’s role in crisis response, per OPNAVINST 1750.1G. This should include possible scenarios dealing with the possibility of power outages, cell phone outages and evacuations.
Can I, as an Ombudsman, register myself in the Ombudsman Registry?
No, the Commanding Officer or designee is responsible for updating the Ombudsman Registry. If assistance is needed, the Ombudsman Coordinator or CNIC Ombudsman Program staff can assist.
What are some of the benefits of E-Blast messages?
E-Blasts are primarily messages containing program updates, announcements that can be sent to specific groups – ombudsmen, Ombudsman Coordinators, Commanding Officers, or any combination of the three. They can also be directed to a specific region or installation in response to an emergent need. These messages provide the capability to reach a large number of people within minutes.
Who should take OBT Orientation?
Any newly appointed ombudsman, who cannot attend Ombudsman Basic Training (OBT) within six weeks of their appointment, should try to attend a session of OBT Orientation. This training does not replace the requirement to attend OBT, but will provide an overview of your roles and responsibilities as well as resources available to you. Schedules are posted on the FFSP Web site at www.ffsp.navy.mil.
Will you explain what it means about Ombudsmen having no hierarchy?
The Commanding Officer is responsible for the implementation of the Ombudsman Program at his or her command. They will usually appoint a command POC to work directly with the ombudsman on the day-to-day issues, but will maintain oversight and responsibility. All ombudsmen are to report to their CO (or designee) – not another ombudsman. A larger command may have more than one ombudsman, but they all have equal status regardless of their experience level or time of service and one is not to be appointed as lead or head over another.
What is the procedure for addressing issues that may occur amongst fellow Ombudsmen at the command or within the assembly?
One of the Ombudsman Code of Ethics is to work within the chain of command. This means that if you identify a situation that you believe needs to be addressed, you should first go to your command POC or CO. You also have the Ombudsman Coordinator as a resource. If you are dissatisfied with the responses you have received, you can go to the Regional Ombudsman Coordinator. The next step would be to ask to have the topic placed on the agenda for the next Regional Advisory Board (ROAB) meeting. From there, if resolution cannot be found, the issue is sent to CNIC HQ for review by the Ombudsman Program Advisory Group (OPAG). This would be a great question to discuss with your CO at your initial interview or meeting so that everyone is clear on procedure.
What is the Ombudsman Registry Forum?
The Ombudsman Registry Forum is a venue for ombudsmen to network with other ombudsmen via message board. It is located on the Ombudsman Registry at http://www.ombudsmanregistry.org.
Who can use the Ombudsman Forum?
Only ombudsmen registered in the Ombudsman Registry will be able to access the Ombudsman Forum. If you are not registered, please ask your CO or POC to register you so that you can utilize this feature of the Ombudsman Registry as well as other features.
Is there an Ombudsman Page on Face Book?
Yes. The U.S. Navy Ombudsman Program Discussion Group is now available on Face Book. It is a private group and participants must submit a request to join. Ombudsmen, Ombudsman Coordinators, Certified Ombudsman Trainers (COTs) and Commanding Officers/command designees are eligible for membership. However, they must be registered in the Ombudsman Registry to be approved for the Discussion Group.
Where will I find official information and updates about the Ombudsman Program?
All official information and updates will be posted on the Ombudsman Registry and the Ombudsman Forum.