Spouse of Coast Guard Electronics Technician Chief Mike Turner
Command and Control Engineering Center, Portsmouth
Taking on the responsibilities of a command ombudsman can be challenging, especially while raising three children and being active in the community. Add to that the responsibilities of an ombudsman coordinator, and you’ve got a recipe for a 25-hour day.
Michele Turner’s husband, Coast Guard Electronics Technician Chief Mike Turner, is assigned to Command and Control Engineering Center (C2CEN) in Portsmouth. She is the ombudsman for C2CEN and the ombudsman coordinator for the Coast Guard’s Fifth District, which encompasses 107 units.
During the four years spent as an ombudsman coordinator, Michele’s area of responsibility has included commands located in Southeast Virginia, Maryland’s Eastern Shore and North Carolina. She supports the needs of 50 ombudsmen, training them and assisting them in whatever capacity they need.
“I train about 15 people a year as the job gets turned,” Michele said. “Then I’m on call 24/7 if there is a crisis, and they need help handling it.”
For more than half of the 107 units, Michele is their ombudsman, since they are too small to require an ombudsman designated specifically for their command.
“The commands that don’t have their own ombudsman rely on me,” Michele said. “I make sure they are prepared for things like hurricane season. I am there as they need me to provide resources to them.”
“Michele has been a faithful contributor during the duration of her husband’s career,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Kerry Karwan, work life supervisor for the Integrated Support Center, Portsmouth. “Even during difficult times, her dedication to the Coast Guard family never wavered. She is also filling the role of ombudsman coordinator. That additional selfless investment and contribution of time and energy speaks volumes about her.”
In addition to her work with the Coast Guard, Michele has a full-time job as the bookkeeper and principal’s secretary at Churchland Elementary School in Portsmouth. She also volunteers extensively in the community, through her church and through her three son’s activities.
As the mother of Jonathan, 17, Benjamin, 15, and Nathaniel, 13, Michele has been a Cub Scouts den leader, PTA president and the high school band booster treasurer. Her community involvement is the biggest reason her family was selected as the Coast Guard’s Five Star Military Family of the Year by the YMCA of Hampton Roads.
Michele’s main reason for doing so much in the community is connected to their many moves.
“We have moved so much, I volunteer to become part of the community,” Michele said. “If I give to the community, then I can feel like I’m a part of it.”
One community Michele loved being a part of was in Alaska. Turner was stationed at U.S. Coast Guard Communications Station Kodiak
“Alaska was wonderful,” Michele recalled. “It was a completely different way of life. There were only 12 miles of paved roads. We would get food delivered routinely, but if there weren’t enough supplies on the ship, sometimes our island would get skipped. So you had to know what to buy extra of and freeze.”
Michele laughs at the thought of her introduction to Alaska.
“I walked off the plane and slipped and fell,” Michele said with a smile. “It was always slippery, and you really kind of skated along more than walked.”
After Michele became accustomed to their new community, she worked with other new families to help them understand what to expect, including information about their two paid trips to Anchorage every year and where to shop there.
Thinking back on her volunteer service throughout her husband’s career, Michele said, “I am not one who likes to sit up and be recognized. This is a big honor.”