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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Navy and Coast Guard ombudsmen from across Hampton Roads were celebrated Sept. 14 at the 2023 Joint Sea Services Ombudsman Recognition Dinner hosted by Navy League of the United States, Hampton Roads.
The dinner was held on the same day the Navy recognized the anniversary of the ombudsman program’s founding and its many volunteers who have dedicated their time and service to the sea services’ fleets, fighters and families.
“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the selfless volunteers who continue to make this program a resounding success,” said Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, and keynote speaker for the night. He added ombudsmen, “directly support mission readiness by preparing service members and their families for the physical, emotional, interpersonal and logistical demands of the military lifestyle, and then seamlessly form the ecosystem of support when the unit goes to sea.”
Within the Navy and Coast Guard, the ombudsman is a person appointed by commands as an official volunteer to communicate information to support the life situations that Navy families encounter in the military. They serve as the liaison between command families and the command, keeping the commanding officer informed regarding the general morale, health, and welfare of the command’s families. Ombudsmen communicate regularly with Navy families and provide information and referral services when families request support.
“Fifty-three years ago, the 19th Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Jr. created the Navy Family Ombudsman Program because he recognized the paramount importance of family readiness,” said Caudle.
Caudle said Zumwalt understood a strong foundation at home mixed with clear and consistent communication with leadership would lead to the peak operational readiness, resiliency, as well as improved trust and overall effectiveness of the fleet.
Zumwalt adapted the program from a 19th century Scandinavian custom originally established by the king to give ordinary private citizens an avenue to express their grievances to high government officials.
Lindsey Fischler, the ombudsman for Expeditionary Strike Group 2, attended the dinner and shared her personal thoughts of fulfilling such an important role.
“I’ve always had a desire to help people and especially other Navy families in any way,” said Fischler. “Connecting them with the community and the command and representing them and making change for them is one thing I’ve always wanted to do.”
In his closing remarks, Caudle reemphasized the Navy’s appreciation for the tireless dedication of the program’s volunteers.
“I am confident that I speak for every commander in the room when I say, we could not accomplish our mission without you,” he said. “Thank you for your service, for your many sacrifices, and for being an essential part of our Navy team.”
More than 400 guests were in attendance.