MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The commanding officer of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit spent the evening with the spouses of the 26th MEU here, today, to discuss the rigorous training cycle and deployment their families would be facing.
More than 40 spouses met at the Stone Street Community Center, where Col. Gregg A. Sturdevant, 26th MEU commanding officer, introduced them to the unit's Key Volunteer (KV) Network and told them the importance of family readiness to the MEU's future success.
"Family readiness is a big deal," said Sturdevant. "It will make or break this unit."
Sturdevant said he planned on meeting with the spouses again, before the scheduled 2007 deployment in the support of the Global War on Terrorism, but it wouldn't be the only chance the spouses would get to meet with him.
After the introduction of the key staff members involved in family readiness, Sturdevant turned the meeting over to his wife, the MEU KV Advisor, who spoke to the spouses about the KV Network and started up a game of "hidden link."
The game began with one spouse telling the others personal facts. When another spouse found a similarity to their own life or experience, she would then begin divulging personal facts until another member found a similarity, and so forth.
After playing the game and learning about each other, Sturdevant gave an overview of the MEU pre-deployment training program.
He told the spouses that open communication with the families is a very important factor in the deployment to come, and there are many ways to get word back to them, even in situations that prevent conventional communication such as email.
"There are going to be times when we fall off the page," said Sturdevant about the possibility of no outside exchanges during operations. "But, I promise to get word to you as soon as possible."
Sturdevant, who has been a strong supporter of the KV Network since '93, believes that by having a strong network of spouses at home, more can be done overseas.
When he was a captain, Sturdevant was assigned the duties as the family readiness officer for two deployed squadrons. It was this experience which caused Sturdevant to take a closer look at the program.
"It was then that I saw how important the program is," said Sturdevant.
Sturdevant, who had spent time with a MEU as a squadron commander before, said he didn't have to send any Marines home because the program was working the way it should.
"When the [key volunteers] are doing a good job, Marines and Sailors can stay forward deployed," he said.
The next big meeting with the spouses is scheduled for late November, after they have had more time to get to know each other and prepare for the ending of the pre-deployment training.
For more information about the 26th MEU, go to www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.