I was invited to speak about how deployment effected me as a guardian/grandparent at an Ombudsman conference by the Naval Reserve on Saturday January 22. I was unsure what is an Ombudsman? I had to look up the definition of word and found out it means- a person investigates complaints and mediates fairly.
Once I realized I would be speaking to individuals that directly help military families I could hardly wait. Being able to share what I learned in order to help those facing what I did I could not ask for anything more. I put together a PowerPoint presentation which listed the characteristics of being a working empty nester guardian/grandparent and all the issues we faced during our daughters deployment. I was encouraged to bring a copy of my book and any materials I felt I thought would be helpful. I brought the magazine National Foundations November issue which featured our family, copies of 10 tips to prepare for deployment, copy of my book and a family picture.
I drove to San Diego yesterday which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was a beautiful day and the drive went very quickly.
When I arrived at the conference I set up my display of materials onto a large table. The conference coordinators introduce me to a group of approximately 30 Ombudsman . I told my story and along with my PowerPoint. they listened intently and I knew they were truly interested in better understanding of what guardians go through.
I also shared with them some of my new items I will be releasing in a few months, revising my book to include a deployment guide and my granddaughters book- Deployed Kids. This book is a kid to kid book written by my granddaughters. Once it’s published it will be available through my website. The attendees of the conference had many questions and great suggestions as I move forward in helping families on my website. They even suggested that single parents that plan to marry, the new spouse would appreciate my information. I never thought of that. They asked me if I would be able to come to events where deployed guardians would be attending and speak to those groups, and I agreed to help in anyway I could. This is what I have been waiting for.
I learned that the Navy and Coast Guard have Ombudsman’s through out the country, the Army have Army Family Liaison Officers, and the Marines have Key Volunteer Network. They all work with the Military Family Care groups. They informed me that the local Orange County Marine Base Camp Pendleton would have helped me when my daughter was deployed even though my daughter was in the Air Force. This is something I am going to investigate into. They shared with me that any branch of service will help a deployed family. I wondered why everyone does not know that?
These Ombudsman are the spouses of military and they truly care. One Ombudsman came up to me after I spoke and said to me “ I am sorry Debbie, we failed you while your daughter was deployed!” I told her not to worry I didn’t know at the time that there was help out there. A Naval Captain came up to me and said “ You have made my officers think about our deployed sailors and their families, Thank you for sharing your story”.
I look forward to working with such a fine group of people dedicated to helping us clueless civilians.
I am on a mission now to get my word out to all of those helping liaisons with military families. If you know of any please send me your comments.