Mobile native named Ombudsman of the Year

1st Coast Guard District NewsStaten Island, N.Y. – Mrs. Casey Van Huysen, a native of Mobile, Ala., received the Wanda Allen-Yearout Ombudsman of the Year award for exceptionally meritorious service from January 2012 through December 2012.

During this time, she demonstrated high standards of professionalism serving as a principle source of assistance and support for New York and New Jersey Coast Guard families. As an ombudsman, she provided support and the necessary resources to help Coast Guard reserve and active duty personnel as well as civilian employees and their families.

“It’s a complete honor to be Coast Guard Ombudsman of the Year, I’m just very proud,” said Van Huysen. “Words can’t express how thankful and grateful I am to receive such an award.”

When situations turned bad, military families in need turned to Van Huysen, who willingly stepped forward and made an incredible difference. As part of the Spouse’s Association, Van Huysen worked with other military wives after Hurricane Sandy hit, collecting more than $235,000 worth of donations including food, clothing and toys. The spouses received and organized the generous amount of items donated to give to military families who were uprooted during the storm.

Her contributions to the community were greatly appreciated during the wake of devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. In addition to her support to military spouses, she organized a block party for families and single members from Coast Guard Sector New York, with the health, safety and work-life staff, enhancing the sense of community and providing valuable resource information.

“One of the most indispensable aspects of reaching out to an ombudsman is their valuable network of resources,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp. “When you talk to a unit ombudsman about a challenge your family is having, they can bridge your concerns to the command, or tap into community resources. When you reach out to one ombudsman you are reaching out to a network of hundreds of individuals who are standing by and ready to help.”

In addition to supporting her active duty spouse, caring for their two daughters and volunteering as the Sector New York ombudsman, Van Huysen remained active in local communities by serving as a member of Project Hospitality, which is a private, non-for-profit organization that provides support for individuals with significant needs. She also assisted children with autism and taught fitness classes for the sector’s Morale, Well-Being, and Recreation Program.

“A year ago when I became the ombudsman here, I never would have expected something of this nature,” said Van Huysen. “I’ve really enjoyed working with all the families here and all the Coast Guard personnel here and I look forward to next year.”

Van Huysen’s compassion, dedication to service and professional work ethic significantly enhanced the quality of life for the families at Sector New York and the local Staten Island community.

Photos from the ceremony may be viewed at the Coast Guard News Flickr page.

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