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Office of Work-Life Programs : Ombudsman Program - Command Leadership Fundamentals

What is an Ombudsman?
An ombudsman is an official volunteer who is appointed in writing by the commanding officer to serve as a link between commands and families that help to ensure Coast Guard families have the information necessary to meet the challenges of a military lifestyle. Ombudsmen are able to provide resource referrals so that family issues may be resolved before requiring command attention.

Additionally, an ombudsman allows Coast Guard members to better achieve mission readiness by knowing their family members have an available resource when issues or emergent situations arise.

Benefits of the Ombudsman Program
The commanding officer is responsible for the well-being of all personnel in the command. The morale and mission readiness of Coast Guard personnel is directly related to the health and well-being of their families. Ombudsmen provide a great benefit to command leadership as well as to Coast Guard members and their families when running an effective program.

An effective Ombudsman Program:

  • Ensures a responsive and accurate source of information between commands and families.
  • Provides effective resources and referral for families.
  • Offers proactive information and education resources, newsletters, telephone/email trees, and briefings.
  • Supports a positive spokesperson and role model for family members.
  • Offers assistance and support during natural and man-made disasters.

The Role of the Ombudsman
The roles and responsibilities of the ombudsman may vary slightly from command to command. The program should be tailored to meet the needs of an individual command.

In general, ombudsmen:

  • Serve as a liaison between the command and command families.
  • Keep the command informed regarding the overall health, morale, and welfare of command families.
  • Regularly communicate and distribute information to and from the command and command family members.
  • Provide information and referral to assist command families with any concerns or issues.

An ombudsman should not:

  • Transport people in their privately-owned vehicle.
  • Provide childcare.
  • Lend money.
  • Allow people to stay with them in their home.
  • Hold an office or leadership position in a Spouses' Club.
  • Be Victim Advocates or attend Victim Advocacy Training.
  • Be CISM Peers.

The primary guidance for the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program is COMDTINST1750.4 (series). The purpose of this policy is to provide program guidance and assign responsibilities for the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program which requires that commanding officers ensure that command family members have access to the services of an ombudsman.

Program Structure

Commandant CG-00
The Commandant will appoint, in writing, one or more ombudsmen-at-large to represent all unit ombudsmen and report on active duty and reserve family concerns. The ombudsman-at-large will write reports of any field visit and provide them to the Commandant as requested, with a copy to the Assistant Commandant for Health, Safety, and Work-Life (CG-1K). The ombudsman-at-large is responsible for advising the Commandant on matters affecting Coast Guardsmen and their families. The ombudsman-at-large will report directly to the Commandant.

Ombudsman Program Manager CG-1K12
CG-1112 serves as the program manager and is responsible for developing program policy and promoting program management efforts. In addition, the program manager is responsible for supporting the initiation of collaborative efforts between Coast Guard units with DoD and other federal, state, and local agencies, including both public and private, to ensure maximum use of resources for family support services to Coast Guard members and their families.

Regional Ombudsman Coordinators
The Atlantic and Pacific Area Regional Ombudsman Coordinators (ROCs) address ombudsman program service delivery and implementation issues in their respective areas. For their respective areas the ROCs market and promote the value of an ombudsman to all units within their AOR and advocate for the support of the duties related to the ombudsman program.

Health, Safety and Work-Life Service Center
Health, Safety and Work-Life Service Center provides direct oversight to the HSWL Regional Practices (HSWL RPs) to ensure the implementation of standard operating procedures, standardized ombudsman training curricula, and adherence to Coast Guard policy.

Ombudsman Coordinator for your AOR
The Ombudsman Coordinator in your AOR plans, manages, and implements the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program. The coordinators facilitate, coordinate and/or present the standardized Coast Guard Ombudsman Training at least quarterly in their area of responsibility. Additionally, Ombudsman Coordinators provide advice and support to the command and their ombudsmen. Click here to locate your HSWL RP Ombudsman Coordinator.