CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq -- For many Marines and their families, staying in touch with each other while deployed can be a monumental task.
This is especially true during the holiday season when being away from home can be an enormous burden on all. A simple phone call, email or letter from home can be a huge morale builder.
For the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, currently deployed here, calling home is a well-used luxury. They know that no matter what time of day it is they can go to the phone center aboard camp. With 16 computers and 12 phones, the phone center provides Marines with the capability to stay in touch with the people back home 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The battalion’s corpsmen, who work at the battalion aid station, make it possible for the phone center to stay open.
“We work six hour shifts at the phone center,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawn P. Kossler, a 25-year-old Pittsburgh native. “It’s not that bad really; we mostly just sit here and make sure everyone gets a chance to use the phone and computers.”
According to Kossler, the busiest hours for the phone center are from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. At busy times like that, a half-hour time limit is instituted to give all the Marines an equal chance to use the phone and computers.
The Internet is free and the phone cards are affordable at about 4 cents a minute. The phone cards are offered in $10, $25, $50, $100, and $250 versions. For $25, you get over 10 hours of talk time. You can also have the company automatically recharge your account at any time if you fall under a certain dollar amount on your card.
“It’s nice,” said Lance Cpl. Andreas F. Alvarez, a 20-year-old Naples, Fl., native and mechanic with Headquarters and Service Company. “You can come in and talk to your family, check the Internet and forget about Iraq for a little while.”