By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Elena Pence, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) celebrated the 40th anniversary of the ombudsmen program with an awards ceremony honoring 81 ombudsmen in San Diego Sept. 8.
Ombudsmen are command-appointed volunteers who act as a liaison between the command and Navy families.
There are currently more than 100 SURFPAC ombudsmen serving the San Diego waterfront.
"Family readiness equals operational readiness," said Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, commander, SURFPAC. "Ombudsmen are the 'equal' sign in that equation. They provide a direct and vital link between commands and families, and the surface force could not accomplish all that we do without them. I am grateful for their time and amazing energy."
This year's celebration boasted the highest attendance for an ombudsman appreciation ceremony in recent history.
"Honoring ombudsmen is important because they are the Navy's volunteers and create an important connection between the families and the command," said Stephanie DuBose, SURFPAC ombudsman. "They are the families' lighthouses, guiding them to and through the myriad of Navy resources we are blessed to have."
The average ombudsman spends approximately 800 hours a year assisting their command. Once assigned as a representative, they undergo 25 hours of initial training and are required to complete six, three-hour advanced training sessions a year. At SURFPAC, the creation of an additional Ombudsman Passport Training Program ensures that surface ombudsmen remain up to date on the latest resources, tools and initiatives.
"Being an ombudsman is a tough job, but I feel it is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever done. I think family is a very important element of Sailors' careers, and for me to be a part of making Sailors' lives easier on the ship and at home is very humbling," said Stacy Wassermann, USS New Orleans' (LPD 18) ombudsman. "The ceremony was an amazing way to be honored by Sailors I help, and I admire their dedication in supporting the ombudsman team."
Founded Sept. 14, 1970, by the then Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, the Ombudsman Program is designed to assist and support families using Fleet and Family Support Services.