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SURFOR Ombudsman Hosts Assembly for Surface Ombudsmen

By MC2 (SW/AW) Elena Velazquez, SURFOR Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO – Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR) Ombudsman, Stephanie J. Du Bose, held an Ombudsmen Assembly May 13 at Murphy Canyon Chapel to focus on suicide prevention and awareness in the Surface Fleet.

Vice Adm. D. C. Curtis, Commander, Naval Surface Forces/Commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, was in attendance, pointing out the importance of suicide awareness and providing the families with the resources.

“We take this issue very seriously and I think it is important to discuss it with the ombudsmen so they can take the information, resources and training we provide and pass it along to Surface Force families,” said Curtis.

“SURFOR has recognized suicide as an emergent crisis within our commands and wants to be proactive by addressing the issue,” said Du Bose. “We’ve found that families don’t necessarily have all the information that is put out to Sailors, as is included in general military training, so we wanted to provide the ombudsmen with all available information so they may include it in their family newsletters and events.”

Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Stephen Richardson, Naval Surface Forces Suicide Prevention Coordinator, spoke at the assembly about the signs of suicide, ways to prevent an incident and why it is important for ombudsmen to have knowledge on the topic.

“Ombudsmen are the front line for the families. They are the commands’ liaisons and providing them with information and giving them the resources helps us get that information home to the families,” said Richardson.

SURFOR is currently creating a task force to better inform families and ultimately prevent suicides.

“SURFOR is putting together a task force to get ahead of the game by sending out information to families and giving them resources in case they come across the situation,” said SURFOR Force Master Chief (SW) Eric Page. “We want families to feel comfortable and know it’s ok to contact someone to ask for help.”

USS Boxer’s (LHD 4) Ombudsman Stephanie Perez feels she is ready to educate families about potential signs of suicidal thoughts in a loved one and what happens if a services member’s command is notified of a suicide situation.

“I can’t wait to get out there and coach my Boxer families on the signs of suicide so that we can work together and save a Sailor’s life,” said Perez “The most important thing for families to do is call someone, whether it be the command, ombudsmen, or 911. Everything is confidential and we want to help.”

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