Parents of Single Sailors Stay in the Loop
During deployment, Sailors begin to appreciate how comfortable their lives were at home. Perhaps they've taken for granted the amenities their parents provided when they were growing up, along with the hard work it took to raise them. Although your deployed Sailor has probably gained a newfound appreciation for home life, he or she may forget to keep you informed. Fortunately, most naval commands include Sailors' parents in the information and support they provide families.Ombudsman
The ombudsman of your son or daughter's command is like a bridge, relaying information between the command and families. Ombudsmen interface with families through newsletters, telephone, email, or perhaps their own websites.
To receive information from the command's ombudsman, your Sailor must give the ombudsman your contact information. If your Sailor is unreachable, you can contact the ombudsman yourself by finding the phone number or email address on the command's website, or through the Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) at your son or daughter's base.
Attending a command picnic day is a great way to meet the ombudsman, sign up to receive command information, and tour your Sailor's workplace.Newsletters
Naval commands and ombudsmen send information to families in several ways. If the command publishes a newsletter, it can be mailed to you, posted on the command's website, or emailed. A typical newsletter contains messages from the commanding officer (CO) and ombudsman, information on events and homecomings, or tips on sending packages to Sailors.Phone Lines
Some commands supply information via a CareLine. Families can call a phone number, normally published in the newsletter or on the command's website, to hear a recorded message from the ombudsman or CO.
Smaller commands may use phone trees to pass very important messages. You may be included in this tree if the ombudsman has your phone number. You can also volunteer to participate in the phone tree, calling other families to pass on command information.
The FFSC in Norfolk, Virginia, has a hotline, 1-800-FSC-LINE (if calling locally, it's 757-444-NAVY), which is staffed around the clock. If the command is in the Hampton Roads area the staff can answer almost any question, including how to find your Sailor, who the ombudsman is, or when the ship is coming home.
Family Support Group
A command's Family Support Group (FSG) may invite parents to local social events, such as picnics or holiday parties. The homecoming reception, normally the day before a ship returns, gives information such as how to get on base, where to park, and the schedule of the disembarkation.The Internet
Sailors' parents can find information or support each other on both military and civilian websites. The Department of Defense's Deployment Connections website lists support information for parents.
On the civilian side, parents are invited to join the Military Families Lighthouse Support Group, founded by Navy wife Patty White. The website has care package information, an ombudsman locator list, military term definitions, and more.
Whether you contact the ombudsman, read the newsletter, join a phone tree, participate in the family support group, or use the Web, there are many innovative ways for parents to stay in the information loop when their son or daughter is deployed.