The U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) established the Ombudsman Program in 2007 to ensure that all Soldiers and their Families have an independent, neutral mediator and resource to consult outside of their chains of command. Originally designated as a resource for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers (and their Families) assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), Ombudsmen now serve non-WTU Soldiers and Families who need assistance as well.
Ombudsmen are Army Civilians who have a desire to work directly with Soldiers. Of the 52 current Ombudsmen, most served as senior non-commissioned officers, and therefore are able to create an important bond with current Soldiers through their shared experiences. New Ombudsmen participate in a one-week training course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, which is part of the Cadre Course. This allows Cadre and Ombudsmen, who work side by side at WTUs, to build relationships, thus strengthening their ability to mediate difficult situations.
How Ombudsmen help Soldiers
Much of the job involves communication with all parties involved—Soldiers, Families, Cadre, chains of command, etc.—and explaining the ins and outs of different Army programs. By functioning as an independent liaison, Ombudsmen help Soldiers navigate the complexities of the system and locate appropriate resources.
Typical issues encountered by Ombudsmen include:
- Difficulty with appointments
- Problems with orders/assignments
- Medical Evaluation Boards
- Requests for second opinions
- Transitioning to the VA
- Other medical-related issues
Although Ombudsmen are located across 29 Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and WTUs, they report to the MEDCOM Chief of Staff instead of the local chain of command. Ombudsmen serve as a liaison between MEDCOM, the Soldier and Family, and the MTF or WTU Commander. Ombudsmen have a collaborative relationship with the MTF Patient Advocacy Office and the MEDCOM Medical Assistance Group to assist with the resolution of issues.
How to connect with an Ombudsman
Anyone needing assistance with a medical-related issue can call the MEDCOM 24/7 Wounded Soldier & Family Hotline at: 1-800-984-8523 (domestic) and 312-421-3700 (overseas DSN). Representatives document the issue in detail and send it to the appropriate office for resolution.
Additional Policies and Resources
The following Warrior Care and Transition (WCT) resources are available to assist you in learning more about the NMA program: