Photo Information

Command Element Marines with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit organize and separate mail in the hangar bay during their first mail call aboard USS Kearsarge in the Mediterranean Sea, Sept. 12, 2010. Care packages and hand-written mail are a big part of increasing moral and just one way for family and friends to stay in touch with deployed Marines.

Photo by U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Santiago Colon Jr.

Staying in Touch: How deployed Marines stay in contact with their families

25 Mar 2011 | Cpl. Jeff Drew

In times of strife, military families are often separated for long periods of time.  In order to combat the separation, the Marine Corps offers several ways to keep in touch with loved ones while deployed.

Email may be on of the first things to come to mind when considering long-distance communication, however, many Marines and sailors do not have the luxury of an easily accesable internet.  Instead, the hand-delivered letter is still used as a way for families to keep in touch with service members.

“They also have Motomail,” said Mrs. Suzanne M. Mccurry the family readiness officer with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.  “It is a great way for families to keep up with the Marines.  It is an internet-based system where you type a letter much like an e-mail.  When you hit send, it has the address of the unit the Marine is with and it goes to the post office in Afghanistan where a computer physically generates a letter, puts it in an envelope, and it is then hand delivered to the Marine.  It can be there within 24 to 48 hours.”

Some of the larger units also have the ability to conduct video tele-conferencing.  A Marine’s family can set up a time with the battalion family readiness officer and coordinate a time to see and speak with their family members in Afghanistan.  For Marines with smaller units, there are other ways for them to see their families.  

“The USO has a program where they videotape a Marine parent reading a book to their child,” said Mccurry.  It gets sent home to their families on a DVD and makes long deployments easier, especially for younger children.” 

It is never easy to say goodbye to a family member as they deploy for a long period of time.  While old-fashioned hand-written letters have a personal touch, deployed Marines usually receive them weeks later.  Now, deployed Marines can receive e-mails and Motomail within days of them being sent.

“Everyone loved it,” said Cpl. Christopher A. Bello, a rifleman with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.  “Every chance we could, we would talk to our families.  It had a great affect on moral.”