PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Warfighter and Family Services Center recognized more than 80 ombudsmen at an Ombudsman Appreciation Dinner at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Sept. 3.
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH) Rear Adm. Dixon Smith was the keynote speaker for the event, and he expressed his gratitude for all the work the ombudsmen did during 2010.
"You are 81 out of more than 5,000 ombudsmen throughout the Navy who support our families," said Smith. "You are our lifeline. We cannot do what we do and go forward without you. I personally thank you, and everybody in here thanks you. The reality is, while we thank you, we probably don't know half of what you do because you do it in stride."
More than 220 military members and senior leaders from CNRH; Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet; and Command Patrol Reconnaissance Wing 2 gathered at the Hickam Officers' Club to pay tribute to their command-specific ombudsman.
"This is about the commands showing appreciation to the ombudsman," said Teresa Espiritu, the event coordinator for the appreciation dinner. "The Warfighter and Family Services Center appreciates the ombudsmen, but we are only assisting each command to show their own support and appreciation to their ombudsman."
Espiritu is the ombudsman coordinator and one of the training instructors at the Work and Family Life Division of the Warfighter and Family Support Center.
"The ombudsman is not outside the command; they are part of the command," said Espiritu. "When their command is deployed, they go through the same emotions, the same stressors. They experience all of that, and then they have hundreds of families under their care. They are amazing people because they are able to juggle their own lives, and then work, and then support other people's lives. It is very difficult, and these people are volunteers."
Holli Jo Corley, the ombudsman for USS Crommelin (FFG 37), said she volunteered to be an ombudsman because her first ombudsman was extremely helpful.
"When we were first married, my husband was a seaman apprentice, and we were way away from home at our very first duty station," said Corley. "The ombudsman we had on our ship was unbelievably helpful. They guided me in the right direction. I was a little country girl far away from home. I've never left home. I was lost in the big city of Norfolk. I swore that if I ever had enough knowledge and experience about this life, I will always be there for other spouses."
The U.S. Navy established an ombudsman program in 1970, under the direction of Adm. Elmo Zumwalt. Through the Navy Ombudsman Program communication between the spouses of active duty personnel and the command is kept open, thereby improving the quality of life for everyone involved.
The purpose of the program is to ensure the families of active duty personnel have a channel of resources for their needs and quality of life. The ombudsman can offer guidance and assistance before, during or after a deployment. They meet with department heads aboard a naval installation to find out the latest news and pass it on, including news on ship deployments and helping to ensure operational security.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.