Just to see and hear him

20 Dec 2000 | Cpl. Valerie A. Martinez

Inside the commanding general's wing of Building H-1, home of the 2d Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, wives waited patiently to their husbands' faces, and children clapped with excitement at the chance to hear their daddy's voice.

These families were getting a rare opportunity to participate in a video teleconference with their loved ones stationed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) aboard the USS Nassau floating in the Mediterranean.

"There are 40 families expected to come in to see and talk with their husbands that are out on the USS Nassau," said Debbie B. Lefebvre, wife of Col. Paul E. Lefebvre, commanding officer, 22nd MEU. "We have six on the waiting list in case we come up with some extra time."

According to Glenn Mayberry, a family readiness officer with II MEF, the system has been here for years and is mostly used for conferencing between general officers and admirals.

"The conference room gets opened up to families a couple times a year," added Mayberry. "This is a really good opportunity for the Christmas season."
Mayberry said he wishes more families could have this opportunity to speak to their loved ones.

"We only have a time limit to work with 20 families each day," he said. "I wish I had enough time so all 2,000 Marines and Sailors on ship could talk to their families."

Families were notified of the teleconference through the organization of the Key Volunteers.

"There are lots of ways families can keep in touch, and this is just another valuable resource they have over the holiday season," said Lefebvre.

According to Allyson R. Barnes, wife of Cpl. Jacob A. Barnes, a radio operator with 8th Communications Battalion, 2d Marine Division, the chance to see her husband made the holidays easier.

"We were just married April 24th, so this is the first Christmas I have had to be away from him," said Barnes of Las Vegas. "This made me feel better about the holidays with him being away."

Lefebvre said the Key Volunteers looks out for those families who are going through this for the first time.

"The key volunteers is a motivational kind of force for the families that are going through this for the first time, and showing them we care really helps," she remarked. "I can help them understand what it is like having a husband with the MEU. We share our experiences and I let them know they can get through this."

Barnes added the support she receives from the volunteers keeps her going when times get rough.

"Doing things with the key volunteers helps remind me that someone else is out there going through the same thing I am," said Barnes.

Lefebvre remarked the teleconferences, along with the support of the volunteers, will help these families get through the holiday season.

"There is no substitute to having your husband home," said Lefebvre. "But having a group of ladies around to support you is paramount to keeping your family together."