In response to a few blogs and/or Facebook groups that I have come across in the past couple of weeks:
In my years as a Navy wife I have heard more than enough times about the stereotypes associated with our lives and seemingly to most everything we put our hands in. I think what irks me the most is that many of these stereotypes come from the inside. These are not people who live on the outside of our circle but rather like a well thought saboteur who is working amongst us.
The number one complaint, the Family Readiness Group and/or the Ombudsman. I have tried to put my finger on where these predictions, that all FRG’s are BAD and that once you attend a meeting you are now part of some secret group that has compiled themselves to take out all the other families at your command. In hopes of eventually taking the Navy as a whole!
The Ombudsman is the leader or biggest contributor to the gossiping, drama filled power that they think they are entitled to. She is the one that provides them with just enough gas to fuel the torches of fire that they need to succeed at their goal of Navy domination.
Okay, okay… we all know that the above written post is an over dramatization of the reality of the FRG/Ombudsman. But seriously, this is the way that a lot of our fellow wives feel (or some skewed reality of the above). Do a simple Google search or just listen to the spouses around you in the commissary. You would be surprised.
I would like to take a stab in the dark here and say that the majority of the wives we hear this from have either had a really bad experience in the past or have never really given it a chance. We have all had bad experiences and probably will again.
However, do not rely solely on the information you have received from other sources. Go out to your next FRG meeting, I can promise you that the majority of them are waiting to welcome you with open arms. They are struggling to rise above the stereotype that has been placed upon them that dates back to probably before most of us could even call ourselves Navy wives!
If there was a big (insert your favorite thing here) setting in front of you and you really wanted it, would you allow someone to tell you “oh, you don’t want that, it is going to be a horrible experience they are all that way”. No, I would hope that you would be able to make the decision on your own. If it isn’t for you then you are under no obligation to continue going.
Keep in mind though that your FRG leadership/Ombudsman are working by rules, rules that are set forth to them by the Navy. So while it may seem unfair or not right to you, these ladies have volunteered to help ALL the families at your command. They have given up precious time with their families to put together activities and outings for the greater good of the command. They need your help to make it successful, they want you to be there.
Now the Ombudsman! The Ombudsman contrary to popular belief is not part of the FRG. She is her own separate entity. While she will more then likely work closely with the FRG to maintain a successful and comfortable environment for the command, she is not a member of the FRG board and really has no say in what the FRG does. However, she is probably an active member and will a lot of times work as an advisor to the FRG, this just makes for a better and positive setting.
Anything that is told to the Ombudsman is confidential and will NOT and can NOT be repeated to anyone accept those that are in the Command Team and have a need to know. She cares about you and your family, she probably thinks about one of “her” families at least 5 times a day. She wants you to succeed and be happy, she wants you to have a great experience at this command whether it is your first or your fifteenth!
This is not to say that there are not some FRG’s/Ombudsman that may not be the greatest, but just remember they are only human trying to deal with their lives while worrying about a million others at the same time! If you have no real experience with an FRG do not continue to bring them down, lift them up and make a difference! Even if you have been involved and backed away for whatever reasons, get back into it. Every FRG is different, maybe the first one wasn’t for you but the second one could be just what you were looking for! Show them that you want to help: volunteer, attend a meeting, let them know that you are trying to break the cycle of the dreaded FRG! You maybe surprised where it takes you.
Related note: This post is targeted towards Navy families, however the advice of giving your FRG a chance applies to each branch of service.