For 7 years I was the girlfriend of a Sailor. He moved up in ranks steadily and the commands he worked in welcomed me to some extent but truth be told, being a “girlfriend” affords very little in the way of knowledge, privileges or connections within the Navy community. And rightly so, in my opinion. Specially, in the more secure, confidential commands like Submarines, Special Forces, etc. I do appreciate those that did include me and the Ombudsmen who kept me in the loop even when I was not an actual spouse.
In 2012 we tied the knot finally and I became a Navy Spouse….ooooohs and aaaaaahs are not required…and I was finally in a spot where I could take part in spouse activities, conversations and events. With our move overseas soon after marriage, we got here and found out that the person my husband was relieving’s wife was the Ombudsman for the command so the position would be open. I decided to put my name in the hat and for some odd reason they asked me to take it over. (This is a volunteer position)
What is an Ombudsman?
In a nutshell, I am the liaison between the Leadership in the command (ie: the Admiral) and the Spouses. The command asks me to pass on information to the spouses via emails and the Spouses come to me if they have any needs from the command. I am also a resource to Spouses and have connections all over the base. In an emergency situation such as a natural disaster, I am the contact for them to receive updates, information and instruction as I get info from the command.
So…every year they have a dinner to appreciate and celebrate all of the Ombudsmen on the base and we just had ours a few days ago. I was not sure what to expect, truth is I haven’t been in the position for long nor has it been very busy so I was surprised when two of our command’s leadership said they were coming and bringing their wives. Cool. It was reported to be business casual attire but I wondered what that meant with this crowd. Most of the Ombudsmen don’t work, that I’ve noticed. Well, it ended up being more of a cocktail dress occasion and I think I was ok with my blouse and skirt. I hope. haha
The dinner was not bad, buffet style with roast beef, grilled cod, salads, rice, noodles, and the like. Then they called each of us up to hand a certificate and gift bag and get a photo with the Captain. Cool. Sat back down and my “boss” said, well pull it out, lets see what our money got you. Haha. Below is my loot from the Ombudsman Appreciation Dinner:
This is a photo of all of it. A rose was on each table and we were told to take it home with us. Nice touch.
Coffee Thermos thingy with the Ombudsman seal on it.
Gift Card for the Navy Exchange, $50 !
This is my favorite thing from the bag.
A Japanese doll keepsake. The husband is going to engrave the command name on it for me.
A set of Japanese rice bowls, love these too!
This was not in the bag, a gift from one of the command wives. She picked it up while on vacation in Hawaii.
It’s a tiny submarine with a heart painted on it. It’s a magnet.
I Love it!
It was a really nice evening, had some good laughs with my group and felt very appreciated. If any of them happen to be reading my blog, thank you so much for joining us for this night. It meant a lot that you were there even though my duties are light compared to most of the other Ombudsmen there. (I hope it’s ok to share this with people. *sketchy grin*)
Below is something written by a Former Ombudsman Coordinator, Gayle Brinkley:
I am not a crutch
But I can support you
I am not a counselor
But I know one
I am not a taxi driver
But I can steer you in the right direction
I am not a rescuer
But I can save lives
I am not a babysitter
But I can refer you to a caregiver
I am not a gossiper
But I am a great listener
I am not an enabler
But I can provide tools to empower you
I am not a master of anything
But I know many experts who understand your need
I am not a Recreation or Health Specialist
But I am concerned about your Morale, Welfare & Health
I am not a busybody as I’ve been called
But I am an Official Command Representative
I am a Navy Family Ombudsman
And I am of service to you
The Navy Family