GROTON, Conn. – The Ombudsman Assembly Chairperson of Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London was honored for her exceptional work as a crew-to-family liaison with the Sybil Stockdale Award in a small, closed ceremony at the base, Nov. 10.
Christina Fricke is the USS Hartford (SSN 768) command ombudsman as well as chairperson of the SUBASE New London Ombudsman Assembly. She assists, mentors and guides 29 ombudsmen in supporting their respective command families. She also organizes monthly assembly meetings and training opportunities for her ombudsmen and raise awareness of important topics.
“[Fricke] was selected as this year’s U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s Ombudsman of the Year!” said SUBASE New London Commanding Officer Capt. Todd Moore. “To give that some context, it means that she was selected as the best ombudsman of all the commands under U.S. Fleet Forces. Not just submarines, not just amphibious warships, not just aircraft carriers, but the entire fleet. And she did that on top of managing the demands of being an ombudsman for one of our submarines, USS Hartford; being the leader of our Ombudsman Assembly as its chairperson; navigating the day-to-day challenges of being a submarine spouse and being an amazing mom to two young kids. Christie represents the best of the best.”
Fricke’s father is retired Command Master Chief Dennis H. Green and her mother, Lyn Michele McCarthy, served as a command ombudsman during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. As a result of her heritage, Fricke takes tremendous pride in her duties and believes in the value of mentoring other ombudsmen.
“Through the challenges and rewards of military life, I want military spouses, dependents, extended family members and service members to never feel alone, overwhelmed, or defeated,” said Fricke.
As the Ombudsman Assembly Chairperson for SUBASE New London, Fricke does that and more, providing mentorship, assistance, and guidance to 29 other local ombudsmen in supporting their command families.
Typically, she organized and participated in-person, monthly assembly meetings and advanced training opportunities to pass along the latest updates from base leaders to other ombudsmen, and to help develop their skills and raise awareness of trending topics that may be impactful to families. The COVID-19 pandemic changed things.
“Since March, I’ve worked closely with Fleet and Family Support Center and base leadership to shift to weekly virtual meetings with ombudsmen, command triads and command support team spouses to share the quickly evolving updates and resources for COVID-19 response,” said Fricke. “The frequent virtual communication has been a great channel for ombudsman to support, inform, and advocate for their command families through the uncharted territory brought on by the pandemic.”
Fricke said she was caught off guard when she was told she had been selected for the 2020 award.
“My mom, kids and I had ventured out to run some errands when I noticed that I had just missed a call from commanding officer of the USS Hartford, Cmdr. Wiegel,” said Fricke. “So I quickly sent my mom and kids into the house and ran back to the car. I got my notepad and pen out, as I called him back, totally ready to take notes on the situation that he must be calling to brief me on. I will never forget sitting in my car in that parking lot ready to spring into ombudsman action, when Cmdr. Wiegel told me that I had been selected as the 2020 Mrs. Sybil Stockdale Ombudsman of the Year for U.S. Fleet Forces. I was totally caught off guard and so shocked and excited, but I felt really, really proud.”
Fricke was presented with her award on stage at Dealey Center Theater onboard SUBASE New London in a closed, limited-attendance, physically-distanced, and virus-mitigated ceremony with her family, Hartford and base leadership that was video recorded and uploaded to social media. Fricke expressed her honor to be part of the ombudsman community.
“To the ombudsmen that have served before me and are currently serving, I admire your compassion, thoughtfulness and service to military families!” said Fricke. “I am so proud to stand alongside Hartford families and to serve alongside 1,902 of the U.S. Navy’s most valuable assets—the U.S. Navy family ombudsman.”
Every U.S. Navy command ombudsman is the spouse of a Sailor assigned to that command. They serve as a liaison between the command and the families on shore as a point of contact. An ombudsman’s duties include helping families navigate the unique complexities of Navy life and provide them with information and support. For more information, contact Fleet and Family Support Center, (860) 649-3383.