Ombudsman support is provided by both the individual command and the
Coast Guard community. The command should provide the ombudsman not only
with materials and equipment, but with their time and support. An ombudsman
must have the command’s support to effectively carry out her/his
District Community of Practice (CoP)
The CoP is an important component of the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program. The
CoP exists to support the appointed ombudsmen; it is not a policy-making or
supervisory entity. The CoP is a forum for sharing and exchanging successful
ombudsman practices and may serve as a venue for ongoing training.
The District Commander will appoint a Chairperson for each CoP within their
AOR. The Chairperson must be a current Ombudsman.
A District Ombudsman Community of Practice may meet monthly, quarterly or
bi-annually. All district ombudsmen should attend to represent their unit
and their families’ interests. Command leadership (CO/OICs, XOs, CMC,
chaplains and their spouses) are also encouraged to attend. District
Ombudsman CoPs may:
- Serve as a resource for an ombudsman’s professional
growth through additional trainings.
- Provide peer mentoring and information sharing.
- Make recommendations about community matters affecting
the well-being of Coast Guard families.
- Serve as a liaison for policy discussion and
clarification by appropriate local authorities such as
representatives of MWR, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, Child
COMDTINST 1750.4 (series) encourages each command to establish a program to
recognize the volunteer contributions of their ombudsmen. Commands are
encouraged to host appropriate functions that express gratitude and
appreciation for their ombudsmen. Ombudsmen may be recognized at a unit
luncheon, reception, all-hands meeting, ombudsman training or other
appropriate gatherings. Appreciation may be expressed in the form of a:
Communication and Social Media
Communication among and between command leadership, the ombudsman, command
members, and their families reduces rumors, assures family members that they
have the most current information, and instills confidence in the ombudsman
that she/he will be kept informed.
Command leadership should continually promote the Ombudsman Program
including contact information and how ombudsmen can be of assistance.
Information should be in the POW, the command or ombudsman newsletter, and
on the command web site. For important information, such as the appointment
of a new ombudsman, an email blast and perhaps direct mail should also be
Command sponsored Facebook pages, newsletters and telephone trees are key
tools to facilitate communication. It is important for the commanding
officer to establish and inform the command ombudsman of expectations for
the use of these tools. Your ombudsman may serve as administrator or provide
input, depending on the needs of your unit and abilities of your ombudsman.
[Social Media Handbook]
Per policy ombudsmen are not permitted to have or be administrators of independent Facebook groups or pages. This includes, public, closed, or secret groups and pages. Ombudsmen may, however, act as administrators on official unit-level Facebook
pages at the discretion of the unit's commanding officer, creating a balance
of internal/external information shared on the page.
COMDTINST 1750.4 (series) addresses the effectiveness of ombudsmen when
treated as partners in disaster and emergency preparedness. Ombudsmen should
be included in any command plans for disaster preparedness and in disaster
preparedness exercises. Remember the ombudsman:
- Is often the first person affected members of the Coast
Guard family turn to following an emergency or disaster.
- Has the ability to increase awareness about disaster
preparedness and planning.
Ombudsmen are taught during training to deal with individual, command,
and larger crisis response. They are never to act independently without
explicit guidance from the command and are never to assume the role of
counselor. Instead, an ombudsman’s role during crises is to:
- Recognize the crisis.
- Refer for assistance.
- Report crisis incidents as required
By recognizing the signs of the following individual crisis situations,
the ombudsman helps get intervention early and prevent escalation to crisis
level. In addition to assisting family members to cope with individual
crises, ombudsmen may be called upon to assist in a large scale crisis
involving a command emergency or a community, state, or national disaster.
Command emergencies are incidents that impact the command.
The command uses their ombudsmen to the greatest benefit in these situations
when ombudsmen are included in training and exercises and when their roles
in a crisis or disaster are clearly delineated by the command.
For further information regarding the ombudsman’s role during disasters and
Turnover of an ombudsman occurs whenever an ombudsman’s spouse transfers, is
discharged or retires, the ombudsman can no longer perform her/his duties,
or the commanding officer terminates an ombudsman for cause.
A letter of resignation from the ombudsman is also required whenever there
is a change of command. The new commanding officer may request the existing
ombudsman to remain until a new ombudsman is trained or may reappoint the
Commanding officers may also choose to remove an ombudsman from his or her
role for cause. [Sample Termination for Cause Memo] Examples of
Termination for cause may include:
- Any violation of the Ombudsman Code of Conduct,
including failure to report a mandated reportable.
- Theft or making false claims for reimbursement.
- Sexual harassment.
- Inability to work effectively as a member of the command
- Unavailability to command family members.
- Failure to participate in required and available
training, as directed.
No matter the reason for ombudsman turnover, it needs to occur in a
professional manner. Information and items that should be destroyed or
transferred from an ombudsman include:
- All written documentation, confidential communications
and command roster must be destroyed.
- The newsletter production process and files should be
turned over to the command.
- Ombudsman resource binder should be returned to the
command or transferred to the new ombudsman.
- Command owned equipment and supplies must be returned to
In addition, the Ombudsman Registry must be updated with the newly
assigned ombudsman’s information. At this time you will want to communicate
procedures for informing families to the change in ombudsman and provide new
contact information (when available).