By Kaylee LaRocque
NAS Jax Public Affairs Officer
Navy Ombudsman-at-Large (OAL) Elka Franco-Giordano, along with Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano, visited Naval Air Station Jacksonville June 6-7.
The visit gave Franco-Giordano the opportunity to meet with Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) staff, local ombudsmen and Morale, Welfare and Recreation representatives to gain knowledge on family support issues and initiatives.
During her stop at FFSC, Carolyn McCorvey, the center's director, briefed Franco-Giordano on the Individual Augmentee, New Parent Support, Ombudsman, Life Skills and Family Advocacy programs. She also discussed domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault issues.
"If you can take away one thing from this brief, it would be prevention," McCorvey stressed.
"We strive very hard to promote prevention here. In fact, we recently held our first child abuse prevention parade which was very well supported by the command and tenant commands."
Franco-Giordano also visited the base chapel where Lt. Kyron Bell, base chaplain, and RPC Michael Martinez offered a tour of the All Saint's and St. Edward's Chapel which was built in 1941. One of the programs they highlighted was the NAS Jax Food Locker Program.
"This program is run by the NAS Jax Chief's Mess," said Martinez, who oversees the program.
"We receive donations from the congregation and other individuals and provide food to needy families. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, we partner with the USO to give food baskets to 500 military families who may some help during the holidays."
Other stops included the base gym, fitness center, family fitness center, Youth Activities Center and Child Development Center.
"I love to look at the backgrounds of all the programs available to the Sailors and their families," said Franco-Giordano.
"Seeing the passion behind the person who is actually providing those programs, I don't think you can get that from a classroom brief or brochure. No brochure is going to tell you the experience that is behind the people who are working directly for those families. So that's why I enjoy walking around and meeting people when I visit the different bases and learn where that passion comes from.
"My job is not to evaluate or grade installation programs, it's more to share best practices and see how things are working. You see issues in some places and they think they are isolated, but then you visit different bases and you start to see patterns. Then I can go back and talk to commander, Navy Installations Command and let them know this is a nationwide issue and what find out what can be done about it."
Franco-Giordano also toured Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia and Naval Station Mayport during the visit to the tri-base area.
The Ombudsman-at-Large is tasked by the CNO to improve family readiness by advising him and the MCPON on matters affecting Sailors and their families.
As they travel throughout the Navy, they meet with Navy leadership, FFSC staff, command family ombudsmen, family members and Sailors. They attend meetings and conferences to gain a better understanding of matters affecting families and ombudsmen.