Friends of the Coast Guard Family

Ken Weber, Heather Davis, Amanda McGowen and Jessica Borden proudly display certificates of completion upon their graduation from the Coast Guard Ombudsmen Program training course in Juneau, Alaska, Jan. 29, 2016.  Betsy Longenbaugh, D17 Ombudsman Coordinator (far right,) conducted the training, which prepares ombudsmen to provide aid and services to Coast Guard families.  USCG photo.

Ken Weber, Heather Davis, Amanda McGowen and Jessica Borden proudly display certificates of completion upon their graduation from the Coast Guard Ombudsmen Program training course in Juneau, Alaska, Jan. 29, 2016. Betsy Longenbaugh, D17 Ombudsman Coordinator (far right,) conducted the training, which prepares ombudsmen to provide aid and services to Coast Guard families. USCG photo.

Among the five branches of the U.S. military, it’s no secret that Coast Guard deployments usually allow members to spend more time close to home with family and friends. However, many crews and personnel are often called upon to protect America’s shores or explore the Arctic seas for months at a time and, when that happens, Coast Guard ombudsmen are there to keep them connected to their loved ones.

Coast Guard ombudsmen are a volunteer force, officially appointed by unit commands to facilitate communications between Coast Guard commands and families and provide support during deployments, emergencies and times of crisis. They also increase military readiness by helping commands ensure the morale, safety, health and efficiency of personnel and their families.

Before an ombudsman can begin to provide their valuable services to Coast Guard families, they need to be trained to use the tools to do the job. With that in mind, three prospective ombudsmen gathered at Sector Juneau Jan. 25-29 for an in-depth course that laid the groundwork for their job to come. These three ombudsmen will join a force of more than 25 volunteer ombudsmen throughout the State of Alaska.

“The training seminars are essential to our ombudsmen,” said Betsy Longenbaugh, regional ombudsman coordinator for Coast Guard District 17. “It allows us to provide one-on-one training about the tools and resources available to ombudsmen and it allows the ombudsmen a chance to network with their counterparts throughout the state.”

In addition to the 16 hours of mandated training from headquarters, the attendees received training on resiliency and suicide prevention, Alaska resources, legal resources and procedures for medical travel.

“Ombudsmen provide an important service for incoming families by letting them know about the communities where they will be living.” said Longenbaugh. “This training also helps them inform families about available resources and let commands know of sensitive issues affecting families.”

The new ombudsmen completed their training just in time for the Coast Guard to celebrate 30 years of the program. Originally dubbed the Coast Guard Family Representative Program, it eventually became the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program we know today. The Coast Guard will celebrate the valuable services ombudsmen provide March 26.

“This is the 30th year of the Coast Guard Ombudsmen program,” said Rear Adm. Dan Abel, 17th District commander. “It’s great to think of the many, many Alaskan families who have been helped and supported by the dozens of ombudsmen who have served here during those years.”

For more information on the Coast Guard’s Ombudsman program click here.

To locate your local Coast Guard ombudsman click here.

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