The command has numerous responsibilities to ensure that the ombudsman is thoroughly oriented and prepared to begin carrying out his/her duties. It is up to the command to ensure that the ombudsman has the appropriate materials and equipment and receives the required attention.
This section includes information on orientation and training, funding, the role of the Command Support Team, as well as required forms.
Appointing an Ombudsman
Once an ombudsman is appointed, the command has numerous responsibilities to ensure that the ombudsman is thoroughly oriented and prepared to begin carrying out her/his duties.
An ombudsman is considered an official Navy volunteer. As such, the ombudsman must:
- Receive a letter of appointment signed by the commanding officer. A copy of the letter should be sent to the local Fleet and Family Support Center ombudsman coordinator and Ombudsman Assembly chair. The appointment letter ensures a seat at Ombudsman Basic Training and allows distribution of name and contact information. The letter should include term length, probation, training/orientation requirements and contact information. See Sample Letter of Appointment.
- Be registered by the command with the Navy Ombudsman Registry.
- Sign a Volunteer Agreement for Appropriated Activities or Non-appropriated Fund Instrumentalities (DD 2793) to be covered for personal liability. This affords ombudsmen legal protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act. See Volunteer Agreement Form, May 2009.
- Per OPNAVINST 1750.1G, an ombudsman volunteer file must be created and maintained by the command. A copy of the appointment letter, volunteer agreement and training records must be maintained for three years after an ombudsman leaves the command.
Appointing an ombudsman for a probationary period is recommended. If the new appointee has previous experience as an ombudsman, the recommended probationary period is three (3) months. If there is no previous experience, the recommended period is six (6) months. Whatever the length of the probation, it should be indicated in the appointment letter. At the end of the probationary period (or sooner if indicated), the commanding officer and ombudsman should meet, evaluate and determine if the ombudsman will continue on probation, continue without probation, or be asked to resign or be terminated.
The command should provide the following materials to the ombudsman:
- A nametag and ombudsman pin. The pin is available through the NEX Uniform Shop for a nominal fee.
- A copy of the Navy Family Ombudsman Program Manual including OPNAVINST 1750.1G.
- Command Roster. Be sure it is current and that the ombudsman routinely receives an updated version.
- Required paperwork including forms and reports.
- Ensure the command ombudsman receives adequate equipment, material and funding support.
ORIENTATION AND TRAINING
To be effective, an ombudsman must receive a thorough orientation and complete Ombudsman Basic Training. It is up to the commanding officer to provide the ombudsman with the required materials and equipment. An initial meeting should be set so that the commanding officer can discuss expectations and responsibilities. For further information on what to include at this meeting, see Ombudsman Orientation.
For a list of items that the commanding officer should discuss, review Guidelines for the New Ombudsman.
Ombudsmen must complete Ombudsman Basic Training within six weeks of appointment. If unable to do so within this timeframe, they must take the CNIC OBT Orientation on line and then complete OBT as soon as possible. OBT includes information on the following:
- Ombudsman Program Overview
- Managing Your Responsibilities
- Code of Ethics
- Command Relationships
- Communication Skills
- Information and Referral
- Crisis Calls and Disasters
- Deployment and Mobilization
- Course Review and Summary
Ombudsmen shall take advantage of training offered through the Ombudsman Assembly and Advanced Training. The ombudsman should be encouraged to personally track all trainings attended. A sample Training Record is provided.
COMMAND SUPPORT TEAM
The Command Support Team (CST) is designated by the commanding officer. Typically, it includes the CO, XO, CMC/COB, chaplain, their spouses and command ombudsmen. The CST helps to build and maintain the well-being and morale of the command and command families.
Each individual has a specific role. The commanding officer maintains responsibility for the overall effectiveness of the Ombudsman Program. However, he/she generally appoints a point of contact (POC) for the ombudsman – usually the command master chief or executive officer. For detailed information on the roles and responsibilities of the CST, review Command Support Team.
OPNAVINST 1750.1G requires that the command ombudsman receives adequate equipment, material and funding support. The commanding officer should establish specific funding resources for support of the Command Family Ombudsman Program. Prior to appointment, a budget line item for reimbursement of ombudsman expenses should be submitted to the Tycom. For more information on funding, see CNIC Financial Fact Sheet.