Advocacy has its own special motivation. Generally, people who take on advocacy do it for love of someone or something. It’s a thankless thing and the people spend their lives advocating for others and the greater good ask for nothing in return but change. Change for those they speak up for. Advocates have courage that is often seen as unattainable and awe inspiring but the truth is we all have it, the burning fire of motivation. It’s just that theirs is different in that they don’t expect much in return.
Being a Navy Ombudsman is much the same. While the majority of the time is spent helping others live better military lives by providing military related tips, information and resources, they are also advocates. They have a special kind of motivation because it is one of the most thankless (volunteer) positions a person could hold. Yet, Navy spouses around the world do it every single day with love and tender hearts ensuring our Navy families have the best quality of life they can while their Sailors are at sea.
It is why I do it, too. After 4 plus years and 2 commands, I have learned there is no glory in this job. Sometimes it has heavy hearted moments that cause me to question “why” and tests my motivation. Kind of like the 20 mile mark in a marathon when you think your body just can’t handle another step. There is hardly thanks except maybe in passing from time to time and it what keeps me going. The spouses who are genuinely so grateful someone was on the other side of the phone to give them reassurance or a useful resource to ease their worried mind.
Often times I am told we, Ombudsmen, should be paid and then asked why the Navy doesn’t when other service have moved in that direction. To me, that answer is simple. Ombudsmen are very special people. It takes a lot of fire belly burning motivation to willing step into a job that doesn’t pay, with little in return. To willingly answer angry phone calls (or desperate ones) with no solution and walk away ready for the next one. To stand before the command leadership and say they aren’t getting it right and the families deserve better. But, when you dangle something in front of person to take on what Navy Ombudsmen do then the person desires the dangling item more than to help our families who need and deserve it. Ombudsmen don’t need the dangling item they need for our families to be armed with resources to live successful military lives and platform to fight for them when the resources are lacking.
Even in our day and age of social media and instant ability to find information I believe deeply in the Ombudsman Program. There is a reason it is over 40 years old and it is because it works. When you have a strong advocacy program built with people who are driven with motivation to help others our Sailors set out on their mission with clear, calm and reassured hearts and minds that their families will be well cared for.
I feel very strongly about that and it is why I continue to give of myself and volunteer as an Ombudsman.
Advocates can have money, award titles and gifts of thanks but at the end of the day it is the belly fire of motivation for the greater good and change that drives them. Thank an advocate today, military or civilian. They are all the same in their “why” and our world is a better place because of them.