Over the years I have met many people from other branches of the military. Often times the conversation has turned to support for the spouses of active duty members. This is an important part of any military family. We have so much thrown at us at a time that we tend to need a little extra help to see us through. In these conversations the spouses from other branches would ask me if I had heard of a certain program available. Generally my answer would be that I hadn’t heard of it. I would then look it up, only to find that they do not offer support to Coast Guard families. These conversations and a recent appointment to an Ombudsman position caused me to look into the support programs available to Coast Guard families.
The biggest asset available to Coast Guard families is the Work Life Program. Under the umbrella of the Work Life Program, the Coast Guard provides a multitude of services to its members and their families. These services include the Ombudsman Program, CG SUPRT, Family Support, Suicide Prevention, Substance Abuse and much more. The Work Life Office is the office that overseas all of the support programs offered to Coast Guard families.
One of the greatest assets available to Coast Guard spouses through the Work Life Office is the Ombudsman program. The Commandant is working to expand this program with the hope that every unit will one day end up with an appointed Ombudsman to assist the families. Many people are unfamiliar with the Ombudsman program and what those appointed to it can do for them. “The Coast Guard Ombudsman Program is a command program intended to improve communication between the command and the Coast Guard family members. Coast Guard ombudsmen are communication links, provide information and referral resources and act as advocates for family members” (COMDTINST 1750.4E). Ombudsman are C.G. spouses that are appointed by the unit command to support the families. They are there to help in difficult situations of all kinds and help refer the family members to the proper place to get the assistance they need, as well as off assistance in navigating the Work Life Program.
The other major asset of the Work Life Program is CG SUPRT. The CG SUPRT offers confidential counseling, education and referral services to Coast Guard members and their families. “Help is available for issues such as marital and family problems, drug abuse, depression and anxiety, work/life balance, work-related concerns and career issues” (CG SUPRT). The confidential help provided by CG SUPRT is available 24 hours a day by call their consultant line (1-855-CG SUPRT).
Work Life also offers different levels on family support. They can help families find child care in a new location. They also offer assistance with adoption services and finding care for elderly dependents. Work Life also acts advocates for the families in situations of abuse or neglect. Work life has programs to assist families with relocation, scholarships, and even spouse employment. They also provide help with financial management and counseling.
The Coast Guard works hard to be sure there is assistance for its families when they need it. They offer assistance for almost any situation a family might find themselves in. If you are a part of the Coast Guard do not be afraid to reach out to your unit’s Ombudsman, your command, or log onto the Work Life section of USCG.mil. Any of these are a perfect way to find information and connect you to the help you need. The Coast Guard does not want you to struggle with any given situation. They want you to feel comfortable reaching out and utilizing these programs they provide for you.
COMDTINST 1750.4E. Ombudsman Program. Uscg.mil