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Ombudsman Appreciation Ball

NBK celebrates priceless command volunteers

Over 200 guests attended the 2015 Ombudsman Appreciation Dinner and Masquerade Ball. Photo courtesy of Facebook

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When asked how important Ombudsmen really are to the Navy, NBK Ombudsman Coordinator Yasmeen Sabir quickly and emphatically replies, "They are imperative. Before the Ombudsman Program was created, there were so many terrible problems within Navy families. Families had no one to go to for help with marital issues, financial problems, or anything, and divorce was rampant because of that disconnect.

The Ombudsman Program gave families an individual who could carry the grievances, concerns, and issues of families to the command and help affect change. This feeling is echoed throughout the Navy, the feeling that Command Ombudsmen are a vital link between commands and families, and it's because of this that the commands of Naval Base Kitsap came together last Saturday to celebrate with the 2015 NBK Ombudsmen Appreciation Dinner.

What is an Ombudsman? An Ombudsman is a spouse within a command who volunteers to act as a liaison between the command and families. Ombudsmen are appointed by the Commanding Officer and work closely with the CO, XO, and CMC or COB to relay information to and from families and provide valuable resources to families. Ombudsmen spend hours each month learning about new information and resources to improve the lives of their command families and spend many more hours sharing information, assisting, and genuinely serving the command.

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt enacted the Ombudsman Program on Sept.14, 1970 to give families someone to go to in times of need, and each year the Navy celebrates this day as Navy Ombudsman Appreciation Day. In addition, in the month of September commands come together and honor their Ombudsmen at the Ombudsman Appreciation Dinner. On Sept. 19, nearly all of the nearly 70 surface, submarine, and shore commands of Naval Base Kitsap came together in the Plaza Ballroom onboard NBK Bangor to celebrate a beautiful evening of dinner, dancing, and appreciation for over 70 area Ombudsmen.

One guest speaker for the evening, Captain David Collins, Executive Officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton, spoke to the importance of Ombudsmen both to commands and families. "It is estimated that the Ombudsman Program saves the Navy over $40 million every year," he said, which in time of budget cuts and programs and resources being constantly threatened, makes the work on Ombudsmen vital to Naval operations.

Saturday night's event, a masquerade ball, was enjoyed by over 200 guests. Ombudsmen were given the "rock star treatment" as, command by command, they walked - and sometimes danced - to the stage on a red carpet and to the applause of the room before being presented with flowers, certificates, swag bags provided by Fleet and Family Resource Center, and most importantly the heartfelt words of their teams saying just how much each Ombudsman means to their command.

The evening included a delicious meal and dozens of door prizes provided by local establishments, such as Starbucks and Coldstone Creamery, and concluded with a few hours of DJ'd dancing. It was an altogether wonderful evening of thanks and appreciation for a great group of women and men who so richly deserve it.

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