What is the Ombudsman Program?
What is the Ombudsman Program? The Ombudsman Program is a command-operated program, intended to improve communication between the command and a Coast Guardsman’s family members. Coast Guard 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. Volunteers are screened, selected, and appointed by the commanding officer (CO) or Officer-in-Charge (OIC).
What training is provided to the Ombudsman?
The ombudsman, with command support, receives Coast Guard Ombudsman. Ombudsman Training is a standardized course that provides the required knowledge and develops the skills necessary to perform effectively as the command ombudsman.
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 Coast Guard the only branch that has an Ombudsman Program?
The Navy has the Navy Family Ombudsman Program from which the Coast Guard’s program is modeled. 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 CO/OIC at a command. Generally, the CO/OIC appoints the command master chief (CMC) to be the point of contact for the ombudsmen. Most CO/OICs will meet with their ombudsmen periodically, even if the CMC is the point of contact.
Who can be an ombudsman?
Voluntary service as an ombudsman may be accepted from the spouse of a unit member. The appointed ombudsman normally should not be the spouse or family member of the CO/OIC, XO, or CMC.
Who can use ombudsman services?
The ombudsman is a vital link between the command and Coast Guard families. Coast Guard family is defined as active duty, reservists and their families, 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?
Families can call the Health, Safety and Work-Life Regional Practice and ask the Ombudsman Coordinator to give them the name of the ombudsmen they are seeking.
How can ombudsmen locate or contact other ombudsmen?
They may contact the Ombudsman Coordinator at the HSWL Regional Practice.
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 COMDTINST 1750.4 (series). This should include possible scenarios dealing with the possibility of power outages, cell phone outages, and evacuations.
Is there any hierarchy within the Ombudsman Program?
There is no hierarchy within the Coast Guard Ombudsman program. The Commanding Officer/Officer-in-Charge 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/OIC (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?
Ombudsmen are taught 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/OIC. You also have the Ombudsman Coordinator as a resource. If you are dissatisfied with the responses you’ve received, you can go to the Regional Ombudsman Coordinator. If resolution cannot be found, the issue may be sent to the Coast Guard HQs for review by the Ombudsman Program Manager. This would be a great question to discuss with your CO/OIC at your initial interview or meeting so that everyone is clear on procedure.