Ombudsman: Your GLWACH battle buddy
Thursday, 13 July 2017
Story and photo by John Brooks
Special to GUIDON

Ronnie Garrett is a man you want on your side.

As the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital ombudsman, his military experience combined with two master's degrees — one in business and the other in health administration — provide the right prescription to resolve issues patients encounter.

An ombudsman is a liaison between service members, the hospital commander, and Army Medical Command; whose mission is to communicate, facilitate and solve problems as an independent, neutral and impartial  mediator.

“An ombudsman cuts through the red tape and exercises three essential traits: compassion, caring and empathy,” Garrett said.
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Ronnie Garrett, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital's ombudsman, works with Rosalyn Dudley, GLWACH Patient Affairs clerk, to ensure a Soldier's medical separation paperwork is completed on time.

As GLWACH’s ombudsman, Garrett advocates for Soldiers, retirees, Family members and veterans.

He’s also responsible for members of all branches of the military and their Families throughout Missouri.

Garrett, a retired command sergeant major, partners with GLWACH’s Guest and Healthcare Relations staff, the hospital administrator, key providers, department chiefs and the hospital’s deputy commanders and command team to solve issues encountered by patients.

For Garrett, solving issues that Soldiers and their Families encounter is nothing out of the ordinary.

As a noncommissioned officer coming up through the ranks, Garrett has been where the rubber meets the road. Caring for Soldiers with compassion and empathy is something that became part of him long ago.

Garrett and his wife of 22 years, Stephanie, recently drove to Athens, Alabama, to visit his mentor of 30 years, Ronald Boese, who was a sergeant first class in 1982 when Garrett was a sergeant at Fulda, Germany.

Boese taught Garrett to lead, train and inspire  Soldiers.

“Mentorship isn’t just a part-time job. He has to choose me, and I have to choose him. We understood that the relationship doesn’t just stop after you leave a location,” Garrett said of Boese. “It’s a lifetime commitment.”

One thing Garrett discovered he couldn’t do was  actually “retire” when he retired from active duty. He gave it a shot but it only lasted six months.

Garrett recognized his need to care for, mentor and help Soldiers was what drove him and made him who he is today.

“Before I retired, I met an  ombudsman and realized he had the best job in the Army. I became an ombudsman to continue to serve Soldiers and Family members,” Garrett said.

“I serve every day as if it were my last,” he added.

(Editor’s note: Brooks is the marketing specialist at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 July 2017 )