MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The searing Iraqi suns shines from the Marine’s sweaty brow as he attempts to wire the Combat Operation Center’s computer for satellite communications. But, his mind is focused elsewhere. His car insurance was cancelled from payment default, his family lacks access to his bank account and his wife doesn’t know where to turn for help.
Newly-deployed Marines unfamiliar with taking care of bills and family situations faced with a lack of communication and the stress of combat can hurt the mission accomplishment.
Regimental Combat Team 6’s mission is safe from these distractions as they hit the sandy-ground running in Iraq. Their competence is from constant tactical training and their financial preparation taught by their command.
“We’ve gone through a lot of training for this so I won’t feel the difference until the boots hit the sand,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon Meyer, a tactical data network specialist with communications platoon, RCT-6.
The Bedford, Va. native completed three, two-day and one, two-week field operation during RCT-6’s training for Iraq. The training consisted of lying wiring and setting up internet access for the headquarters’ command operations center.
“One of the important tasks I learned during the field operations was how to properly set up the virtual telephone calling system,” Meyer explained.
When modern battlefields require decisions made in minutes, there needs to be seamless communication up and down the chain of command. The VTC allows contact between the COC in Iraq and other personnel with satellite telephones such as commanders in the United States and officers in battle.
“When Marines are on the ground, they have that fog of war,” Meyer said. “You don’t have anything if you don’t have communication and then you get lost in that fog.”
Soldiers would use buglers to communicate during the American Civil War while on the battlefield. The battle could quickly be lost if the buglers were killed on today’s battlefield, communication is just as important and its loss would be just as detrimental.
“Communication specialists are kind of like today’s modern buglers,” he explained.
While the 2003 Forest High School graduate prepared himself tactically through field operations, he also financially prepared himself for a 13 to 14-month deployment.
“I gave a special power of attorney to my family for my car,” Meyer explained, “and I will have internet access in Iraq so I can take care of the rest of my bills myself.”
Meyer’s occupational specialty allows him access to online financial management but it’s the families left at home who have the hardest problem with balancing the checkbook.
“In my experience, the biggest headache is lack of communication between husbands and wives concerning bills,” said Staff Sgt. David Ault, a data chief with RCT-6.
Ault, Meyer’s supervisor, taught his Marines to show their family members how to properly bank. It’s important for deployed service members’ families to be self-sufficient, because it allows the Marine or sailor to focus on their tasks in Iraq.
“When deployed Marines start worrying about home they aren’t giving their 110 percent and that really hurts the mission,” Ault explained.
Other problems families face is loneliness while their spouses are deployed which leads to depression and other complications.
“The biggest thing is that families have a good support system,” Ault explained. “Good friends take care of each other.”
Meyer and the rest of the service members of RCT-6 are prepared for Iraq and know, while deployed, their families and their checking accounts will be safe.