LEMOORE — Thirty-five ombudsmen from Naval Air Station Lemoore (NASL), accompanied by their spouses and command leadership, were honored at an appreciation dinner held at the Tachi Palace on Oct 11.
Guest Speaker, NASL Commanding Officer Capt. David James, spoke about the expansive role of the Navy ombudsman, emphasizing that they are more than a liaison between the command and families.
“We have ombudsman who have taken calls and helped families when they are dealing with their own personal crisis, while burying a loved one, and while recovering from major surgery still in the hospital. They go without sleep to help families who don't know where their next meal is going to come from or when their sailor is going to email them from deployment,” James said.
Alicia Peevy, who has served as ombudsman for the VFA-2 Bounty Hunters for almost a year, said that it’s important for there to be a link between the command and families, especially since VFA-2 has endured a heavy deployment and sustainment cycle over the last two years.
“The unknown can be difficult for families,” Peevy said. “Not knowing the next time you’ll see your spouse, the time spent with them being minimal, and dealing with the changes in dates is hard.”
Melissa Moench, who has served as the VFA-192 Golden Dragons’ ombudsman for over three years, said that while rewarding, the role can be challenging at times.
“Handling sensitive issues is the most difficult, but I have a supportive group with an open door policy,” Moench said, acknowledging Golden Dragon senior leadership and their spouses.
After a buffet-style dinner, ombudsman coordinator Heidi Green presented each of the ombudsmen with a gift to honor their contribution to the Navy community.
“We’ve had a big turnover recently, and some of our more seasoned ombudsmen have been mentoring our new ones,” said Green. “They’re a dedicated group who are passionate about what they do.”
The Navy Family Ombudsman Program was first introduced in 1970 by Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Jr., while he was serving as Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). Ombudsmen are volunteers appointed by the commanding officer of each command.