DND/CAF Ombudsman, Gary Walbourne retires

DND/CAF Ombudsman, Gary Walbourne retires

October 5, 2018

Message from the Ombudsman – Departure Note | 12 September 2018

To all,

It is with mixed emotions that today I announce my retirement from the position of Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman and the Public Service, as of 31 October 2018.

As I come to the end of my time, I am overwhelmed by various emotions and thoughts. First of all is the gratitude I have for all members of the Defence Community. To have had this opportunity has been the most rewarding part of my career without exception.

I have often heard about how professional and dedicated the men and women of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are…well I can confirm these are not just words, they are indeed the fabric that holds this all together. And as I travel across the country, I really see the Canadian Armed Forces for what it is. An absolutely incredible organization filled with amazing people. People who care and are dedicated. For this we should all be so grateful.

To the past I look to learn. At present it is the work that invigorates. To the future I look with hope. The future trials, tribulations and successes will be a direct outcome from the decisions of the present and getting it right is vitally important.

To my friends in the media: Thank you for telling the story. Your interest in this organization has, and continues to be, an important part of describing who and what the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are about.

To our elected and appointed officials:  Thank you to those who try on a daily basis and rest assured that what you do, or don’t, is noticed.

To my team: It’s been a ride!  How you continue to do this work with dedication and humility amazes me on a daily basis. Though the load continues to grow you manage to get it done. Amazing group of dedicated individuals who are second-to-none in what you do and none of it would be possible without you.

To the families:  Few know the sacrifices that you make for yourself and your families on a daily basis and the opportunities you miss because of the lifestyle you follow. You have been called the “strength behind the uniform” and I’m not sure this really describes the impact you have on national security and continuity of operations. More than any group, you have moved me most. From the families of the fallen to playing tic-tac-toe with the children to comforting a distraught family member, I have learned the most.

My tenure has been, at times, chafing to the Department and I still believe we only get better when we challenge the status quo and call out unfairness at every opportunity.  In humility, I have tried the best I know how, I have collaborated when there was opportunity, I have challenged where required and I have pushed as hard as the system can take. I have learned that this is not a popularity contest and at times when you challenge, there will be pushback. All we have ever done, through evidence-based research, is to recommend ways to improve the system. I am proud of the work we have done.

Speak up against unfairness wherever and whenever you see it, challenge the status quo. There are no rewards for doing it other than the fact that you will impact people’s lives in ways you will never know and it will make things better for those who are here or those yet to arrive.

There are stories that will keep me awake at night and matters shared with me in confidence that I will carry with me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thank you for everything.

Gary Walbourne

Forum of Canadian Ombudsman