“Phenomenal superhero” is the title the guest speaker used to describe command ombudsmen during the annual luncheon Sept. 27. Twenty-seven tenant command ombudsmen were recognized for their service at the River Cove Catering and Conference Center in celebration of the 48th anniversary of the program. The event is sponsored each year by the Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC). NAS Jax Executive Officer Brian Weiss served as master of ceremonies. MU1 Drew Williams performed the national anthem and Lt. Kyron Bell, Navy chaplain, gave the invocation.
Before the meal was served, Weiss told the audience what a help wanted ad for an ombudsman would sound like.
“Wanted: organized and motivated volunteer. Must have a genuine concern and desire to help other people … have the ability to stay calm in crisis situations. On call 24/7, 365, no pay, but great fringe benefits, including the chance to tell the CO, XO and CMC what you really think of their latest initiative,” Weiss said.
Guest speaker for the event was Capt. Craig Mattingly, commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11. Mattingly showed how he made the comparison to superheroes from a movie.
“After seeing ‘The Incredibles 2,’ it could have starred our ombudsmen. Our ombudsmen have superhuman abilities and are a team there for those in need at a moment’s notice,” he said. “Just like ‘Elasti-girl’ they are flexible and always there to serve.”
Mattingly then took the time to recognize a few ombudsmen who went above and beyond.
“Christy Lamm at VP-8 has been nominated twice for the Heroes at Home award and was the Ombudsmen of the Year for Wing 11,” said Mattingly. “Joanna Bruderer from VP-45 has served as Skipper Mark Zematis’s voice to passing on gratitude and arranging briefs, welcome home baskets and so much more.”
The Ombudsmen program started to help families during deployments. Commanding officers are charged with selecting their ombudsmen, often times with more than one serving in a command.
Commands can choose a previously-trained ombudsman or elect a new person. Once chosen, they are provided with classroom training.
Some of the topics include standards of conduct, confidentiality, disaster and crisis preparations.
According to FFSC Ombudsman Coordinator Jodi Arden, it’s ombudsmen who are the link between the command and families, with information going both ways.
“By allowing families to better understand what their Sailor is going through allows for the service member to be better prepared for the mission,” Arden said.
Ombudsmen have numerous reasons for getting involved. One local ombudsman said she felt the need to serve the squadron.
For more information about the Ombudsman program, contact FFSC at 542-5637 or stop by Building 554.